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in the value of money, such additional taxes will be no more than nominal. . - When the circumstances of a state are stationary, as production and consumption, or expenditure, are equal, every additional tax must be discharged, by a diminution of consumption or expenditure.
In the declining state of a nation, when produce is less than expenditure, additional taxes muit be paid by the exportation of stock; in this case they will be doubly felt by the body of the people.
Industry by the exportation of stock will lose a va. luable instrument, and suffer by losing the demand, which the stock, while remaining at home, made upon
it. - Taxes then being ultimately paid, either by an in
crease of the produce of labour, a diminution of con. sumption or expenditure, or by exporting stock, it does not appear, will be less felt by the body of the people, when advanced to the state by an impoft on wine, than by a duty upon candles:
Certain individuals will at all times have it in their power to free themselves from the burden of taxes, by Throwing their share of it upon the shoulders of others. This depends not so much on their rank and situation, as on the demand for their labour, or for the use of their property.
The exemption therefore, that individuals may enjoy from taxes, does not so much depend upon the mode by which it is advanced, as upon the circumstances above mentioned.
, Taxes being advanced in money, and in considerable sums; the lower classes of the people not being possessed of money, cannot be subjected to the advance of taxes.
Hence pole taxes have been found oppressive; and such taxes are obnoxious, because they are too visible. Taxes of this species will generally be paid with reluctance, and in many cases with difficulty; of this kind may be reckoned the window and house taxes.
Taxes upon merchandize and manufacture, if mode. rate, are advanced without scruple, because those who advance them, are fenfible they will be repaid the advance. Taxes of this description are not obvious to the repayers, because they are confounded with the price ; they are not obviously oppreffive even to the low er class of the people, because the repayment is made in small sums at different times : a person who drinks a pint of strong beer per day, will repay to the advancer of the duty upon strong beer ** dayly ; such a person might perhaps be unable to pay atonce 105.6d. per annum.
The produce of a tax, must be greater than the par. ticular purpose for which it is imposed requires, in proportion to the expence of collecting it.
As taxes upon import or manufacture appear leaft oppreffive or obnoxious, it may be proper to enquire which are least burdensome when ultimately paid. If upon a comparison it should be found, that the neat produce of the revenue arising from the duties of excife, is more in proportion to the gross than that of the cuftoms, the excise duties will be said to be collected at less expence than those of the customs. The fees of revenue officers being equally a tax upon the public with their salaries, if at any time it should appear, that the fees paid to officers of the customs, are greater than those paid to officers of excise, will it not further leffen the proportion between the gross and nett produce of that branch of revenue?. The person who advances any part of a tax, is not only repaid it, but is also paid a premium for the money he has advanced."
If a duty amounting to 100,000 l. is advanced a year before it is repaid, suppose the premium iol. per cent, such a tax will be to the repayers 110,000 l...
Taxes on manufacture therefore, will be lefz burden
- Is not every fee a bribe? or at least a mode of payment that has a tendency to debase the mind, and for which the donor expects more than the mere discharge of duty ?
fome than impofts upon materials ; hence ale is more properly taxed than malt. ' in
for the same reason, excife duties which are impo sed on manufacture, are more apparently proper than the duties of customs, which fall indifferently upon mã. terial and manufacture. Perhaps a greater revenue might be raised from the duty on sugar, without increasing the burden of the people in general, if the greater proportion of it: was charged upon the sugar baker, from an account taken of it after fining. . · Smuggling is the constant attendant on heavy duties; and it is a double tax upon the public, because, when it obtains, the revenue is directly diminished, and the failure of the impost, must be compensated by some new impofts * Besides, in such cases, restrictive laws are made, to prevent abuses of this kind, the execution of which requires an additional number of officers : this fubjects the public to an additional expence, without benefiting the revenue; for we apprehend, where the temptation to smuggling is sufficiently powerful, refridting laws have in no one instance had a good effect. To prevent smuggling therefore, taxes ought to be moderate; hence many articles must be taxed. There is another reason for laying moderate taxes on a variety of commodities : When a commodity comes to be subjected to a tax, whether a home manufacture or an inte port, a certain proportion of the stock employed in carrying on its manufacture or importation must be detached for the purpose of advancing the tax, and such manufacture or trade may suffer by the loss of the stock thus advanced.
Another circumstance merits attention: The same wants may be supplied by a variety of articles ;
• Lord North laid an additional duty on soap, hecause the price was falling: as the value of a taxed commodity falls, the tax riles ad valoreid, and of course the temptation to smuggling increases, the tax on soap is at present about 50l. per cent. ad valorem; and it may with probability be predicted, that the quantity of soap charged with duty will fall below its nsual average in consequence of smuggling.
among these there will be a natural competition of price; an impoft on one, will deftroy in proportion to its heaviness this natural competition, and may turn the scale in favour of another, until the rise in its price is compensated by improvements in its manufacture or otherwise.'
Let us now consider, what circumstances should determine us in the choice of subjects of taxation. : :: Commodities whose manufacture or import are in
the hands of a few, being more easily taken account of than those in the hands of many, impofts on them may be more cheaply collected. Among all manufactured commodities, duties on glass and printed cotton are colo lected at the least expence. A duty upon delft, stoneware, bricks, tyles, and flower-pots, might be levied at a small expence, the charge to be made at the kiln.'
That stage of manufacture which takes up the largest time, is the most proper for taking account of it and charging the duty : Thus, though the duty is imposed upon drying malt, yet the account of it is taken when in the cistern, couch, or on the floor, not when it comes from the kiln.
Commodities, therefore, whose manufactures are a more tedious, are preferable to such as are lefs fo, as subjects of taxation. Bleaching being one of the most tedious procefses we are acquainted with, a duty upon whitened linen or cotton cloth might be charged at the bleaching-field with the greatest certainty.
The advance of duties will be shorter upon commodities that are not meliorated by keeping, than upon such as are improved by age.
Commodities that are fit for use, when they have : passed through the hands of the manufacturer, are preferable, as subjects of taxation, to those that muft be kept for any length of time; the bottle is not the better for the keeping, but the wine is. Hence, during whatever stage of its manufacture, the duty upon a commodity may be charged, it should not be exacted till near the time the commodity is fit for use: then
the duty upon glass may be sooner exacted, than that. upon wine. The credit given in paying the malt du. ty is proper; for though it does not improve by keepa. ing, yet the greatest part of it is made many months before it is consumed.
The time of paying the leather duty, is fixed with great propriety.
A moderate impost upon commodities of general use or consumption produces a greater revenue than heavy taxes on such as are consumed by the few. The annual amount of the duty on strong beer is about 1,500,000l. The produce of an import of 2 1. per ton on wine was in 1780'estimated at 30,000 l. per annum *.
Commodities of general use are preferable subjects of taxation, to those that are less univerfally consumed or used.,
The great consumption of whale oil, even in lighting the Streets, renders it probable that an impost on it would be considerably productive. Candles are taxed. A duty upon whale oil might be charged at the boiling-house.
A duty on tin-plate charged at the mill would be productive : As would be a duty on gun-powder. :
Merchants and manufacturers complain when the particular branches of trade are taxed. It will, however, be found, that those branches of trade and manufacture that have been moderately taxed for a century past, have succeeded, as well as those that have not, or even as such as have been fostered by bounties.
Moderate imports on manufactures tend perhaps to hasten their improvement, both as a stimulus to ingenuity, and as tending to throw manufactures into the hand of persons pofseffed of stock.
The revenue arising from licences is considerable; : but it seems to be a very unequal mode of taxation.
* The ale duty might be rendered still more productive, by making a reasonable and equitable alteration in the brewery laws.