The decision itself merely holds that compensatory damages awarded for emotional distress and loss of reputation cannot be considered “income” under the 16th Amendment (the amendment that brought us the federal income tax), and that if the Internal Revenue Code says otherwise, it does so unconstitutionally.
But expect this fairly narrow ruling to be selectively quoted by tax protesters for years to come. You can put it to music:
The Sixteenth Amendment simply does not authorize the Congress to tax as “incomes” every sort of revenue a taxpayer may receive. As the Supreme Court noted long ago, the “Congress cannot make a thing income which is not so in fact.” Burk-Waggoner Oil Ass’n v. Hopkins, 269 U.S. 110, 114 (). Indeed, because the “the power to tax involves the power to destroy,” McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316, 431 (), it would not be consistent with our constitutional government, and the sanctity of property in our system, merely to rely upon the legislature to decide what constitutes income.
I can hear the piranha tank roiling.