Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/395

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


PRINCIPLES OF TAXATION. 379

democracy taxed capital to death, no doubt, but in the middle ages once a Florentine always a Florentine. Cosmopolitanism was not invented, and a man hesitated long before seeking his fortune among strangers when ' stranger ' and ' enemy ' were almost equivalent terms. All that is now changed. A progressive income tax in Eng- land, unless very moderate and managed with the utmost circum- spection — and even then the experiment would be too dangerous to try — would certainly result in an enormous transference of Eng- lish capital to Belgium and Germany. If the idea of progressive taxation is feasible at all, it is only feasible in the death duties, and even there the difhculties are formidable enough." *

In Germany, the income exemption being very small, nearly the whole population of the country, male and female, are made subject to the provisions of the income tax. According to M. Soetbeer, the German economist, the total income of the classes in Germany who pay income taxes is $2,190,000,000, and of this amount fifty-one per cent is OT^Tied by people whose incomes range between two hun- dred and twenty-five dollars and four hundred and twelve dollars. And the !N^ew York l^ation surmises that a similar state of things would be found if an analysis of all classes of income-tax payers were to be made in England.

In Austria a new law has been reported by a special Government commission since a previous statement (see Chapter XYIII). At present all persons of Austrian nationality whose annual income exceeds six hundred florins will be liable to a personal income tax,

  • The rate of tax progression in Canton Vaud is much less heavy in the ease of real

than in respect to other descriptions of property. The amount of taxation is fixed yearly. It was for the first year, after the law was passed, at the rate of one hundred and twenty per mille on the lowest class of personal property, with exemptions on movable property, tools, kitchen utensils, clothes, and household furniture. A much more intricate arrange- ment exists for income derived from personal exertions. Sixteen pounds a year is allowed to be deducted from the income, and exempted from taxation, for the head of the family himself, his wife, for each of his children or descendants who are minors, and for each person for whose maintenance the head of the family is legally liable. Thus, a man with a wife and twelve children, possessing an income of five thousand six hundred francs (two hundred and twenty-four pounds) a year, would be entirely exempt from taxation, as also would be a man with a wife and three children and an income from labor of two thousand francs (eighty pounds) a year. It can not be supposed that a low taxation of this character, with all the risks involved of causing capital to emigrate, and of preventing strangers, who, after an interval, are also to be subject to the same tax, from settling in the canton, or from remaining there, with all the differences of class-feeling which it evoked, could have become law without calling forth some strong and almost passionate expressions. It has to be remembered that besides the taxation for the administration of the canton proper, those levied for the expenses, which we include under the head of local government, such as roads, watercourses, education, free to all classes in Switzerland, and carried out with much vigor and cost, are likewise levied according to the same system. We may form some idea of the weight of the burden thus imposed.

�� �