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moderation and liberality they, in general, displayed in collecting their revenues. “Though the ecclesiastical tenth," says Arthur Young, “was levied in France more severely than usual in Italy, yet was it never exacted with such greediness as is at present the disgrace of England. When taken in kind, no such thing was known, in any part of France where I made inquiries, as a tenth; it was always a twelfth, or a thirteenth, or even a twentieth of the produce. And in no part of the kingdom did a new article of culture pay anything: thus, turnips, cabbages, clover, chicorée, potatoes, &c. &c., paid nothing. In many parts meadows were exempted; silk-worms everywhere. Olives in some places paid ; in more they did not. On cows and on wool nothing was levied. On lambs, from the twelfth to the twenty-first. Such mildness,” he adds, “in the levy of the odious tax, is absolutely unknown in England.”I Even in this last country, however, the charge against the clergy has been carried much too far. A very candid and well-informed writer (Mr. Baron Maseres) assures us, that “lay impropriators are generally much more inclined to exact high rents for the tithes that are due to them, than the parochial clergy, notwithstamding the obloquy too often thrown upon the latter, on account of the avaricious conduct of a very small number of them. The person," continues the same author, “who, a year or two ago, insisted upon receiving his full tithe from a piece of ground near Farnham in Surrey, that had been converted into a hop-ground, at great expense, (in consequence of which a Bill was brought into the House of Commons, but not carried,) was not a clergyman, but a lay-impropriator, and a very rich man, who had made a large fortune in the East Indies."?
In reprobating the tithe, therefore, as a pernicious mode of taxation, I rest nothing on the defects which some have ascribed to the ecclesiastical character, but entirely on those consequences which are inseparable from such a burden, by whatever description of persons we may suppose it to be levied.
Travels in France, p. 537. derate Reformer, by a Friend to the 2 See a Pamphlet, entitled The Mo Church of England, (White, 1794.)
It is remarkable, that notwithstanding these consequences of which Europe has so long had experience, and which are too obvious to require particular illustration, advocates have been found for this very plan of taxing the produce of land, as the most expedient system according to which land-taxes can be imposed. A proposal of this sort was made to the French Government in 1699, by the celebrated Maréchal de Vauban, who wished to abolish the Taille, (as it was paid under the old establishment,) together with the capitation, industrie, and all the other taxes committed to the management of the intendants; and to establish, in their stead, what he called a royal tenth, (dime royale ;) meaning by this term, a proportion of all the fruits of the earth, similar to what is established in favour of the clergy. This he proposed to lay on, according to the exigencies of the State, from one-twentieth part to onetenth, upon every article of the gross produce of the land over all France. The circumstances which suggested this project, (the greater part of which arose from the peculiar system of taxation in his own country,) and also the insurmountable obstacles to its execution, are fully stated by Sir James Steuart.*
In many parts of Asia, the state is principally supported by a land-tax proportioned to the produce. In China, it consists in a tenth part, but this tenth is so very moderately estimated in many provinces, as not to exceed a thirtieth. The land-tax which used to be paid to the Mahometan Government of Bengal, before that country fell into the hands of the English EastIndia Company, is said to have amounted to about a fifth part of the produce; and the same proportion is mentioned in the accounts given of the land-tax in Ancient Egypt.
In consequence of this system of taxation, it is pretended, that in Asia, the Sovereign is interested in the improvement and cultivation of land, and it is not impossible that it may have this effect in some degree, by leading him to extend the market as far as he can, by means of roads and navigable canals. But the tithe of the Church is divided into such small
* (Political Economy, Book V. chap. xi.; Works, Vol. IV. pp. 283-298.)
portions, that no one of the proprietors can have any interest analogous to this, and therefore its necessary inconveniences are not redeemed by any such indirect advantage.
Taxes upon the produce of land may be levied either in kind, or, according to a certain valuation, in money. The former mode may be advantageous to the parson of a parish who can oversee, with his own eyes, the collection of what is due to him; but would be necessarily attended with loss to a Sovereign, from the depredations of his tax-gatherers.
A tas upon the produce of land which is levied in money, may be levied according to a valuation which varies with the market price; or, according to some fixed valuation, (a bushel of wheat, for example, being always valued at one and the same money price, whatever the state of the market may be.) The produce of a tax levied in the former way, will vary only according to the variations of the real produce of the land. That levied in the latter way, will vary, not only according to the variations in the produce, but according to the value of the precious metals, and the standard of the coin.
When a certain sum of money is to be paid in full compensation for all tax on produce, the tax becomes, like the land-tax of England. Such is the modus taken in lieu of tithes in many parishes; and which, as it neither rises nor falls with the rent of land, has no tendency either to encourage or discourage improvement.
[SECT. III. -TAXES UPON THE RENT OF HOUSES.
Another species of rent yet remains to be considered as an object of taxation; I mean the rent of houses. This differs from a land-rent in one essential circumstauce: that the former is drawn from an unproductive, the latter from a productive subject; and, of consequence, the rent which is paid for the use of a house, must be derived from some other source of
See what Smith says of the tithes in Bengal,-[Wealth of Nations, Book V. chap. i.; Vol. II. p. 279, tenth edition,]
-and Francis's observation quoted in Boyd's Justice of Peace.
revenue. In so far, therefore, as a tax upon house-rent falls on the inhabitants, it is one of those taxes which must fall indiscriminately upon all the three sources of revenue formerly mentioned, and is properly to be classed with the taxes imposed on consumable commodities.
In treating of these, it will appear afterwards, that the general principle which has served to recommend them to modern statesmen is, that they afford the most practicable mode of taxing revenue, which it is scarcely possible to tax proportionably by any direct imposition. The revenue, it is supposed, will in most cases be nearly in proportion to the expense; and the expense is measured by the consumable commodities on which it is laid out. This general principle applies with peculiar force to the subject now under consideration, as there is scarcely any one article of consumption which may be assumed with so great confidence, as a scale for estimating the whole expenditure of an individual. A proportional tax on it might (in Mr. Smith's opinion) produce a more considerable revenue than has been hitherto drawn from it in any part of Europe.*
Ground-rents (although they have hitherto not been subjected in any country of Europe to a separate tax) are a still more proper object of taxation than the rent of houses. Such a tax would fall altogether upon the owner of the ground-rent, (who may always be presumed to be actuated by the spirit of monopoly,) and would have no effect to raise the rent of houses, the inhabitants of which, even although they should advance the tax in the first instance, would indemnify themselves by the fall in the ground-rents which the tax would necessarily occasion.
Another consideration strongly recommends this species of revenue as a fit object of taxation, that it is enjoyed without any attention exerted on the part of the owner, and depends almost entirely on local causes connected with the general administration of the country. In this respect, it is distinguished from the ordinary rent of land, which depends, partly at least, on the good or bad management of the landlord.
* [Wealth of Nations, Book V. chap. ii. ; Vol. III. p. 285, tenth edition.]
[SECT. IV.]-TAXES UPON PROFIT, OR UPON THE REVENUE ARISING
[SUBSECT. 1.—Taxes upon Profit in General.]
The revenue arising from Stock divides itself into two parts ; (1.) that which pays interest to the owner of the stock; and, (2.) that which is over and above what is necessary for paying the interest.
Of these two parts of Profit the latter is evidently a subject not taxable directly. It is a compensation for the risk and trouble of employing the stock, and which, if the employer did not receive, he would discontinue the employment. If he was taxed directly in proportion to the whole profit, he must either raise the rate of profit, or pay less interest. In the former case, the tax would be finally paid by the landlord or by the consumer, according as the Stock was employed in farming or in mercantile speculations. In the latter case, the tax would fall on the interest of money.
At first view, the interest of money would seem to be a subject as fit for direct taxation as the rent of land ; but two circumstances create a wide distinction between them :-(1.) The quantity and value of the land which any man possesses can never be a secret, whereas the whole amount of his capital can scarce ever be exactly ascertained, and, if it could, would be found liable to continual variations.—(2.) Land is a subject which cannot be removed, whereas Stock easily may. A tax, therefore, which tended to drive away stock from any country, would tend to dry up every source of revenue. The profits of stock, the rent of land, and the wages of labour would be diminished by the removal. Hence, the loose manner in which stock is estimated by those nations, who have attempted to tax the revenue arising from it. In England, for example, if the greater part of the lands are not rated to the land-tax at half their actual value, the greater part of the stock is scarce rated at the fiftieth part of its actual value. Nor, indeed, is it possible that such a tax can be levied according to any estimate ap