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Since 1919, statutory tax law has excluded from gross income compensatory damages received on account of a personal injury or sickness.1 The current version of that exclusion is set forth in section 104 (a) (2) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.2 The construction of that exclusion, both by the courts and by the Commissioner, underwent significant alterations over the 80-year period that the provision has existed.3 The statute itself was amended several times, most recently in 1996.4 It is the 1996 amendment that has raised a constitutional issue concerning the validity of a portion of the statute.5