Until either article 2, section 28 or the judicial construction of that section is modified, Tennessee will be unable to levy a general personal income tax. The revenue needs of the state will rise dramatically during the next twenty years, placing increasing strain on the antiquated and regressive privilege-property tax structure no win effect.' As noted earlier, a constitutional amendment specifically authorizing a personal income tax does not appear to be a likely prospect for the foreseeable future. The only feasible solution seems to be the passage of a nongraduated income tax, such as that proposed by the Tax Modernization and Reform Commission in an effort to prompt the Tennessee Supreme Court to reconsider and retreat from its present construction of section 28. This may not be as futile as it might at first appear. A nongraduated income tax, exempting the income from property taxed ad valorem, bears at least a surface resemblance to a property tax, and might be characterized as such. This tax would reach the income from personal services, tapping a major new source of revenue.
Walter P. Armstrong, Jr.,
Constitutional Limitations on Income Taxes in Tennessee,
27 Vanderbilt Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.vanderbilt.edu/vlr/vol27/iss3/3