Where Do Revenue Bills Originate?

Pursuant to the Origination Clause in the United States constitution, revenue bills originate in the House of Representatives. However, the clause states that the Senate may propose or accept amendments to such bills, just as it does with other bills coming from the House.

The main principle behind giving the House of Representatives the power to introduce revenue bills was that the chamber in which the states' constituencies are more directly represented should hold the "power of the purse." Another principle behind the creation of the Origination Clause was to retain the prohibition in the Articles of Confederation that forbade the national government from directly levying taxes on the people. The Origination Clause was aimed at keeping the power to raise national revenue within the constitutional framework.

The ratified clause is very different from the version initially proposed. The original version would have ensured that all "money bills" originated in the House, including appropriation bills, and given the Senate no power to propose or reject amendments. The final version had serious opposition from critics arguing that if the Senate could amend a revenue bill as it wanted, it made no difference where the bill originated.

The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently interpreted the Origination Clause to pertain to bills that levy taxes "in the strict sense of the word." In a major decision, the court rejected the notion that bills that may indirectly raise revenue, such as those proposing government programs, are covered under the clause.