What a History of Tax Withholding Tells Us About the Relationship Between Statutes and Constitutional Law
47 Pages Posted: 30 Jul 2014 Last revised: 22 Aug 2014
Date Written: April 5, 2014
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.
Keywords: statute, Constitution, superstatute, tax history, withholding
JEL Classification: H24, H29, K23, K34, N41, N42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation