Before the Revolutionary War, the colonial government had only a limited need for revenue, while each of the colonies had greater responsibilities and thus greater revenue needs, which they met with different types of taxes.

The Articles of Confederation, adopted in 1781, reflected the American fear of a strong central government and so retained much of the political power in the States. The national government had few responsibilities and no nationwide tax system, relying on donations from the States for its revenue. Under the Articles, each State was a sovereign entity and could levy tax as it pleased.

When the Constitution was adopted in 1789, the Founding Fathers recognized that no government could function if it relied entirely on other governments for its resources, thus the Federal Government was granted the authority to raise taxes. The Constitution endowed the Congress with the power to “…lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States.” Ever on guard against the power of the central government to eclipse that of the states, the collection of the taxes was left as the responsibility of the State governments.

source:  US Department of the Treasury

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