Harry S. Truman photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the Revenue Act of 1951.

October 20, 1951

I HAVE today signed H.R. 4473, the Revenue Act of 1951. This act will raise about $5.5 billion in additional revenues in a full year--the bulk of it from taxes on individual and corporate incomes. It will raise about $2.5 billion in the remaining months of the current fiscal year.

I have signed this act because we badly need these revenues to help pay for the strong defenses we are building. At the same time, there are certain features of this legislation which are unfortunate from the standpoint of a sound, fair tax system.

I know there are many Members of the Congress who feel as I do about these features of the act. I appreciate the fact that they voted for the bill, in its present form, for the same reasons that I have signed it, namely, because of the immediate need for revenue and because there was no possibility at this late point in the congressional session of making major improvements.

I do not believe, however, that we should be satisfied with the unfortunate features of this act.

This legislation will not raise enough revenue to enable us to keep on paying as we go for our defenses in this emergency period; this is a serious departure from the standards of sound government finance.

Furthermore, this legislation does little to close the loopholes in present tax laws, and in some respects provides additional means by which wealthy individuals can escape paying their proper share of the national tax load through such devices as excessively liberal capital gains provisions, family partnerships, and excessive depletion allowances on oil and gas and certain minerals properties.

In addition, the act contains a rider--the so-called Jennet amendment--which is quite unrelated to the purpose of raising revenue, and which may well result in unwarranted publicity, and personal indignity and unhappiness, for aged people and others receiving public assistance.

If we did not need the revenue from this act so badly, I would not have approved provisions such as these. As it is, I feel that I must sign this legislation, but I shall urge the Congress at its next session to give major attention to legislation improving our tax laws.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 4473 is Public Law 183, 82d Congress (65 Stat. 452). See also Item 228.

Harry S Truman, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Revenue Act of 1951. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231101

Simple Search of Our Archives