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Highway Privileges means licenses or franchises for electric lines, bus lines, etc., or for use of streets; - e.g., basements beneath the sidewalks.
Fines, Forfeits, and Escheats refer to fines for crimes, property forfeited for the nonfulfilment of duties attached therewith, and property reverting to the State when one dies without heirs or a will.
Donations and Gifts refer to gifts for endowment funds for schools, ctc., money for libraries, and the like.
247. The General Property Tax. - Assessment. Each local governmental division — city, town, or township — has one or more tax assessors to determine the value of property which is subject to taxation. In case of personalty this is done each year, but in some States realty is assessed at longer intervals — e.g., every five years in Virginia — but, of course, taxed each year. Assessors are expected to visit property and have the owner fill in a tax form. In practice they commonly assess one's property as it was assessed the previous year, and thus avoid the trouble and duty of visiting the property. The valuation put upon property by these assessors is usually accepted as the basis for county and State taxation.
Suppose your home in a certain township has been assessed $10,000, and suppose the township tax rate is 8 mills on the dollar, the county rate 7 mills, and the State rate 5 mills, or a total of 20 mills. Then your taxes will be 10,000 times 20 mills (2 cents), which is $200. If this home is in a city you will ordinarily pay city, county, and State taxes, but no township taxes. If the city rate is 10 mills, you would pay .022 times $10,000, or $220.
Equalization. — If your property is assessed higher than a neighbor's property of equal value usually there is a means of having the injustice corrected. You may complain to an appeal tax court, to the county board of commissioners, or to a local board of equalization, as the law provides. Many States have county boards of equalization to come into a township
1 In a few States the county is the smallest local division for purposes of assessment.
and raise or lower the assessment on all real estate in that township if it has been improperly assessed.
In some States there is also a State board of equalization to see that the property is assessed alike in the different counties. States without such boards often have property in one part of the State - e.g., in a large city-assessed at its full value, wbereas in another part of the State e.g., rural counties - it is assessed at only half of its value. This means that the city people are paying twice as much State tax as justice demands.
Collection.—State, county, and local taxes are usually collected by the same officials. After the taxes are assessed tax bills are prepared. In some States they are mailed to the taxpayers; but in others the taxpayer must come to the county treasurer or township officer who collects taxes, to learn the amount of his taxes.
Delinquency. — If taxes are not paid by a prescribed date a certain per cent is added. The property upon which the tax is levied is then said to be delinquent, and if the tax remains unpaid for a certain length of time the property is sold, perhaps at auction. If it brings more than enough to pay the taxes, added per cent, and costs, the former owner receives what is left.
Exemption.— State constitutions commonly enumerate certain kinds of property which the legislative body may not tax. Schools, free libraries, churches, and government property are good examples of property usually exempt from taxation.
248. Inheritance Taxes. In 1913 the States derived $17,000,000 from inheritance taxes. In 1921 they derived $57,000,000. In 1921 New York State alone derived over $18,000,000 from this tax, and in some years it amounts to even more. (See Sec. 45.)
This New York law exempts parents, husband, wife, or child to $5000. On the excess of $5000 the rate is 1 per cent up to $25,000; 2 per cent from $25,000 to $100,000; 3 per cent from $100,000 to $200,000; 4 per cent for all over $200,000. Persons other than those enumerated are exempt from the tax on the first $500 only; but instead of paying from 1 to 4 per cent on the amounts in excess, brother, sister, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law must pay a rate varying from 2 to 5 per cent and other persons from 5 to 8 per cent. The method of assessing higher rates on large estates than on small is known as progressive taxation; and higher rates on distant relatives as collateral.
All States except Alabama, Florida, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Wyoming reported the collection of inheritance taxes in 1921, but in nine States the amount was less than $100,000. The amount collected is small in these States because they exempt from the tax property inherited by lineal ancestors, lineal descendants, husband or wife, and brother or sister; and there is not much property inherited by others.
249. How Revenue Is Expended. After revenue is collected, and the local division, the county, and the States have each received their proper share, the respective treasurers are not permitted to pay it out until a proper warrant is presented. After the State legislature appropriates its revenue, the State comptroller or auditor issues warrants to persons entitled to the money, as he is directed to do by the legislative acts appropriating the money.
After the county board appropriates the county money, the county treasurer pays it out when a warrant signed by the county auditor, or some other designated person, is presented. In cities and towns the council appropriates the revenue, and some designated officer or officers sign the warrants to be cashed by the treasurer.
Lutz, H. L. The State Tax Commission. 1918.
QUESTIONS ON THE TEXT 1. What are taxes ?
2. What ten restrictions are there upon a State's power to impose taxes? Explain each restriction carefully.
3. Name the principal sources from which States derive their
4. What is the general property tax? Special property tax ? Business tax ? Poll tax ?
5. How are general property taxes assessed ? 6. What do you mean by a board of equalization ? 7. How are taxes collected ? 8. What is meant by delinquent taxes ? 9. What classes of property are usually exempt from taxation ? 10. What is an inheritance tax? 11. What is meant by progressive inheritance taxes ? 12. Explain the use of warrants in the expenditure of revenue.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION 1. What provisions are made in your State constitution regarding taxation ?
2. How many mills on the dollar is property taxed for State purposes in your State? For county purposes ? For village or city purposes
live in such place? 3. Does your State have a capitation tax? If so, how much is it and who must pay it ?
4. Does your State have an inheritance tax? If so, what would be the net proceeds of an inheritance of $100,000 ?
5. Figure the approximate amount of taxes paid by some person of average means.
6. How much does your State contribute towards the support of the National government, assuming that it contributes in proportion to its population ? Considering the objects taxed by the National government do you believe that your State pays as much per capita as other States? Is the per capita amount paid to the National government more or less than the per capita amount paid to the State government?
7. If your property is assessed higher than your neighbor's what redress do you have?
8. It has been suggested that the only way to reach such intangibles as money, notes, and accounts, is to protect a man only to the extent of the property on which he pays taxes. The remedy is to prevent a note owner from going to court with it if the note is not listed and a tax paid on it. Would this be expedient?
250. Growth of Elementary Education. — Public free schools were established in several of the New England States as early as the seventeenth century, shortly after their settle
ment; but even there interest in education declined during the next century.
It is doubtful whether previous to the Revolutionary War as many as one half of all the white persons throughout the thirteen colonies could read and write. Most children depended upon the little instruction that their parents could