What a History of Tax Withholding Tells Us About the Relationship Between Statutes and Constitutional Law
Anuj C. Desai
University of Wisconsin Law School
April 5, 2014
Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 108, No. 3, 2014
Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1274
In this Article, I explain what a seemingly obscure statute, the Current Tax Payment Act of 1943, can tell us about the relationship between statutes and constitutional law. I use William Eskridge and John Ferejohn’s notion of a “superstatute” as a lens through which to view this relationship. A “superstatute,” in Eskridge and Ferejohn’s conception, is a statute that has small “c” constitutional emanations, emanations that both affect interpretations of the large “C” Constitution and are entrenched against subsequent legislative change. To better understand the precise contours of the notion of a superstatute, I look at the Current Tax Payment Act of 1943, which instituted the system of federal tax withholding for wage income. I describe the history of federal income tax withholding leading up to the passage of that Act, explaining in turn how that history sheds light on the underlying notion of a superstatute.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 47
Keywords: statute, Constitution, superstatute, tax history, withholding
JEL Classification: H24, H29, K23, K34, N41, N42
Date posted: July 30, 2014 ; Last revised: August 22, 2014
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