Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/159

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APPLETONS’

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

DECEMBER, 1896.



PRINCIPLES OF TAXATION.
By DAVID A. WELLS, LL.D., D.C.L.,

CORRESPONDANT DE L'INSTITUT DE FRANCE, ETC.

IV.—RELATION OF TAXATION TO THE STATE.

THE next step of importance in this discussion is to recognize clearly the relation which the exercise or function of taxation, as it has been defined, sustains to the state.

Origin and Justification of Taxation.—The question at once suggests itself, "By what right does that entity which we call the state, whatever may be its concrete form, and whether its powers are exercised by a single man (Cæsar), by a particular class, or by a majority of citizens, take from the individual that which hitherto was absolutely his, annul his ownership, and convert the thing of value to its own use?"[1] How happens it that the exercise of this right is so absolute that the state requires the citizen to set apart from the earnings of his labor a certain sum for its use before he applies any of those earnings to the support of his family?[2]

On this point there has been considerable speculation and philosophizing. It has been assumed that there must be an actual or implied contract between the state and the citizen, in virtue of which the state supplied a certain amount of protection to life


  1. "Titius is to render to Cæsar that which is Cæsar's. But when Cæsar comes to take the shock of wheat or the firstling of the flock Titius may well ask, as he gives them up. Why are they Cæsar's rather than mine? What right to them has Cæsar and not my neighbor Mævius?" Tyranny in Taxation. Theodore Bacon. New-Englander, 1867.
  2. The probate judiciary of the State of Connecticut has recently held that in the settlement of insolvent estates taxes due prior to the assignment of an assigning debtor should be regarded as preferred claims, and as such should be paid in full by the trustee.