Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



This chapter argues that the principal reason the US adopted the corporate tax in 1909 was to regulate corporate managerial power, and that in this regard the 1909 tax differed both from the 1894 corporate tax and from current conceptions of the tax as an indirect tax on corporation’s shareholders.

The United States has had a corporate income tax since 1909. Currently, this tax is under significant criticism, with several academics and practitioners calling for its abolition. It therefore seems appropriate in this context to try to determine what led to the enactment of this tax, and whether the original motivation can shed some light on the current debate on whether the tax should be retained.