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The subjoined extracts contain a specification of the amount of each tax proposed to be repealed, and of the reasons urged in favour of their abolition.
Taxes proposed to be Abolished. Malt
4,136,857 Foreigo cheese 68,224 Hops 148,594 Licences
3,344,913 Licences and certificates) 54,148 Coffee 559,432 Horse-dealers
4,219,049 Horses and mules 61,435 Soap 1,138,262 Windows
78,805 Inhabited houses 1,357,041 Vinegar 18,905 Receipt stamps
200,426 Coal and culm, coastwise 64,238 Per centage on com
} 25,909 Foreign tallow 137,868 Ditto butter 121,250
Reasons for Selecting these Duties to be Repealed.
Malt, hops, tea, coffee, sugar, soap, starch, and vinegar, are necessary for the support and convenience of life, and coals and culm should be rendered as cheap as possible, because they are of great comfort to the people, and tend to preserve their health in winter.
“ Candles is an article of heavy expense to the poor in winter, The children of the people are brought up, principally, on bread and butter, and butter and potatoes; and the people use a great deal of cheese for their support: for these reasons the repeal of the duties on foreign tallow, butter, and cheese, would give them some relief. If it be urged that this will affect agriculture, the answer is, that it can make no difference to the cultivator; he calculates all the produce of his farm before he takes it, and if the dairy be less productive than formerly, he makes the proper deduction; and as butter and cheese are too dear, the people should be relieved.*
“ The duties on all licences and certificates, and on horse dealers, are a kind of income-tax, therefore should be repealed on a regular income-tax being established.
“ The duties on windows and inhabited houses being a kind of property tax, should also be repealed, on establishing an income tax.
“The stamp duty on receipts is a troublesome disagreeable tax, the cause of differences, suspicion, and disrespect, and sometimes of fraud and dishonesty, when confidence, so necessary in
* Yes, “ before he takes it;" but what are they in possession to do? To say the least, such a measure of finance would produce quittings and retakings all over the kingdom, unless the landlords and tenants would compromise, which so rarely happens.
trade, has been misplaced ; to do away with this tax would preserve confidence and friendship, and do away with the cause of a great deal of ill blood.”
The graduated ascending scale of impost on property and income, recommended in lieu of these taxes, is the following: Graduating ascending Scale of Impost.
0 6 ditto
0 9 ditto 90
1 0 ditto 100
1 3 ditto 130
1 6 ditto 150
200 2 0 ditto 200
300 2 3 ditto 300
400 2 6 ditto 400
2 9 ditto 600
1,000 3 0 ditto 1,000
2,000 3 6 ditto 2,000
4,000 4 0 ditto 4,000
10,000 4 6 ditto 10,000
20,000 5 0 ditto 20,000 and upwards
6 0 ditto “ Bachelors, forty years of age, to pay 1 per cent. more from 1000l. and upwards.
sinecure and office executed by deputy, and for every place or office held by a person who has a superannuate pension for another place or office, an additioval 10
cent. “The land tax in King William the Third's time was 4s. in the pound; when money was five times its present value, and here the rate of 4s. does not commence till 2,0001. a year.”
As the payments on the smaller incomes must necessarily fall heavier than those on the greater incomes, our author proposes to allow on "an income from 501. to 801. a deduction of 5 per cent. for every child above one ; from 801. to 1201. 5
every child above two; from 1201. to 1801. 5 per cent for every child above three; and from 1801. to 2501. 5 per cent, for every child above four.”
The produce of the substituted tax is estimated at 21,493,4981., leaving a surplus in favor of the alteration amounting to 3,672,365l., which is expected to cover whatever difference there may be between the former and present incomes, on which the calculation has been made, and answer for a proposed deduction of one-fourth on inocmes arising from personal labour, skill, and professions;
also allowances for children, the expense of collection, &c., “which may reduce the tax to 17,821,1331., the amount of the taxes to be repealed; but if it should be thought that there will be a larger deficit in the incomes than the above surplus will cover, then the duties on "licences and certificates may be continued until the returns under the Act shall be made; they amount to 948,0381., which, added to the above 3,672,3651. will make 4,620,4031. to answer all contingencies."
In addition to these advantages, our author estimates a further saving annually of 801,9491. by a reduction in the per centage of collection from 64 to 2 per cent., “besides the additional charges in trade on the articles, in consequence of the taxes on them; this (he thinks) will make another annual saving to the people of a sum perhaps equally large, if not more.
The passages above quoted are sufficient to put our readers in possession of an outline of our author's plan. His reasons in favor of this important change in our financial system, are founded partly on the historical fact that men of wealth, the noblemen and gentlemen of the country, bear the great burthen of the state. In the feudal times, the barons and their tenants served in the wars, and those who did not personally serve, paid a tax,which was called escuage; afterwards all services were commuted into money, and the aids and subsidies were imposed on lands and goods, stocks on the land being exempt.
“ These taxes (adds our author) were therefore paid by the rich according to the value of their land, costly furniture, &c. The furniture, &c. of the people were but of small value.” He continues: “ This was the principle acted upon down to the time of the funding system; a system that must in time be the ruin of every country, and enslave every people where it is adopted, or force the country to dishonour itself, by breaking its faith with its creditors, and rob them of their property."
The main argument, however, in favor of the change, is that, in the opinion of our author, the present mode of taxation is unjust; "a wanton and wicked oppression of the poor,” the taxes on articles for use and consumption” being "incapable in their nature of being adjusted, so that each individual shall bear his part and just proportion according to his situation in life and abilities to pay, which alone constitute an equitable taxation. He adds: “the indirect taxes are worse in their effect than the direct taxes; the cost to
the individual is much greater than the sum that goes into the exchequer, and he is left in ignorance of both. ... The property tax is very different from this: whatever is paid on that tax goes direct to the public treasury. It has none of the mysterious windings and the deductions that are made out of the indirect taxes, that pass through so many indirect channels: on every tax or additional tax, the trader lays on the double, even on all his stock in hand, and the people must pay all these augmentations, or deprive themselves of the articles they stand in need of; nothing of these impositions and injustice belong to the property tax. ... The agricultural and trading classes, from whose industry all income emanates, who are therefore mainly to be regarded in taxation, have every reason to approve of an income tax. They are then sure that public creditors and public servants, who derive their incomes from public taxes, will contribute their just proportions to the burthen of the state; and they are sure also of its effect being less injurious to themselves in their different situations in life, than taxes on articles of necessary consumption ; the income tax corresponding with every man's means of paying, which alone can be just: the other taxes having no such principle in them must be unjust, arbitrary, and ruinous to the people.
“The property tax (he observes further on) produces no derangement in rank or station, because all become a little less rich in due proportion; the distinctions remain exactly in the same relative proportions. And in commerce the effect of the tax will be precisely the same; no derangement can happen from the tax, because it acts only on prior ascertained and accustomed gain, and makes the manufacturer contribute a small portion of that gain to the public service.”
“A change of system will remove obstructions to production; all production will augment in quantity, and yet will augment in value; and the price of labour will increase in proportion. This country is never so prosperous as when every thing bears a good price; the labourer is then well paid for his labour, the mechanic for his industry and skill, the circulation of money becomes more abundant and more rapid, and the circulation of money is the lifeblood of the country. In every country where that circulation is but small the country is languid, and the people poor and miserable.”
Much more might have been added in illustration of our author's argument in favor of the change which he advocates, if our limits would allow of further extracts. What we have
given embraces the most material of his statements and reasoning.
We shall conclude with a few reflections, which have occurred to us in reference to this subject; premising that, though we doubt the propriety of so extensive and sudden a change as he recommends, we fully admit the importance of his suggestions, and the ability with which he has supported them.
Notwithstanding the view which our author has taken of the unhappy effect of the funding system, and the scheme of taxation to which it has given rise, on the situation of the people, he does not wish himself to be understood “as derogating from the power, dignity, and glory of the British empire, nor from the political wiscom of its government; on the contrary (he observes), the wisdom of its ministers and Parliament has gone along with the enterprising spirit, talent, and industry of the people;” and that “the wise measures of the government, in aiding the talents and industry of the people, has brought the nation to be the first empire in the world, ought not to be denied." These are large admissions, and should have led him, in our opinion, to doubt the correctness of his views, at least to the extent to which he has carried them ; for if the system which he deprecates has been attended with such beneficial effects as he describes, there may be some reason to fear, whether the adoption of a contrary system, especially if the change be sudden and extensive, might not be attended with injurious consequences in its result.
We admit with our author, “if an income tax had always existed instead of the other modes of taxation, the country had never been plunged into its present debt. Those in power and those out of power would, at all times, have augmented the burden with prudence and economy; because they would then have been taxing themselves direct." Consequently, the country would, in all human probability, have been spared a considerable part of the enormous expense attendant upon the war for the independence of America, and the revolutionary wars with France; and our public burdens might now have been comparatively light: but it may resonably be doubted whether the position, which we, as a nation, occupy among the scale of nations, would have been as high as it is at present, and our commerce been carried to the extent which it has attained, many of the improvements which have taken place in machinery having doubtless been stimulated by the necessity,