Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/305

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APPLETONS’

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

JANUARY, 1897.



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

CORRESPONDANT DE L'INSTITUT DE FRANCE, ETC.

V.—LIMITATION AS RESPECTS INSTRUMENTALITIES BY WHICH TAXATION IN A CIVILIZED STATE EFFECTS ITS PURPOSE.

ATTENTION is next asked to the instrumentality by which taxation subserves the necessities of the state and enables it to effect the purposes for which it was instituted. The designation of this instrumentality is "revenue," as is indicated in the phrase "tariff (or taxation) for revenue." But the term "revenue" is abstract and most indefinite, and as popularly used conveys little meaning other than a receipt of something of value. In rude or incipient forms of government, where tribute or taxes were payable in cattle, skins, cocoanuts, salt, grain, and the like, the term might be fairly interpreted as an income of property in general. But in a highly civilized state such a meaning is inadmissible. The government of such a state obviously could not defray its varied expenses by payments with various articles of property, even though their value may be unquestioned—as, for example, its executive with fish, fresh or salt; its legislators with distilled or fermented liquors; its judges with boots and shoes; its soldiers and sailors with cotton or corn; and its clerks with agricultural implements—even though the producers of all these forms of wealth or property may be most willing to give them in discharge of their tax obligations.[1] In such a state revenue has


  1. In ancient times cattle were regarded among nations of a considerable degree of civilization as standards of value, and obligations to government in the nature of taxes were payable therein. As recent, moreover, as 1758 taxes in Virginia and Maryland were pay-