The Carriage Tax : Planet Money People have been arguing over the constitutionality of wealth taxes since 1794, when Washington put a tax on carriages.| Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

The Carriage Tax

The Carriage Tax

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Otto Herschan Collection/Getty Images
circa 1850: A family prepares to set off on a journey in their private coach. (Photo by Otto Herschan Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Otto Herschan Collection/Getty Images

In 1794, George Washington decided to raise money for the federal government by taxing the rich. And he did it by putting a tax on horse-drawn carriages.

The carriage tax could be considered the first federal wealth tax of the United States. It led to a huge fight over the power to tax in the U.S. constitution, a fight that continues today.

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