The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 1889.
THE PREMIER AND THE PRO-PERTY-TAX.
Of his recent trip to Auckland the Premier may write down " Veni vidi," . but may not add the last word of that oft quoted boast, for while he has vet and seen and argued with his opponents on tho Property-tax question, he has certainly not conquered them, To say that the Property -tax is a most unpopu- , Ur impost, as well as m other parts oi ; tho colony as m Auckland, is per bo to prove nothing more than that nobody likes to submit to any system of taxation ■ if he can possibly escape it, but there m [ more than this general dislike to the Property tax, it is objected to on special grounds as being m many respects an • oppressive, and m many instances an unfair tax. Certain cases of hardship • and inequity were admitted by bir Harry, but more euo, he „ made light ol those objections to his favorite moneywringing machine which are founded r upon general principles— as for example , that the Property-tax does not disI tinguish between productive and un j productive property. But pooh pooh it as ho may that is an objection which cannot be got rid of. On the other - hand a tax upon income actually received calls upon every man to pay m I fair proportion, though m this case and m that of the Property-tax too, the impost should be on m sliding scale increasing m percentage with the increase of income, as by this means only cad there be anything like equality of sacrifice, j It is true that an income tax alone would not reach all who ought to bear their ' share of tho burdens of the State, but it 5 equally true that tho Property-tax alone does not so reach all. Even a Land-tax and an Income-tax together would allow property m plate, pictures, carriages, and other articles of luxury to go scot free, and if our direct taxation is to be revised and put on a fair footing 6o that all shall bear their jußt proportion, then there should be a tax upon income derived from any other source than landed estate, and a property tax upon landed estate and all possessions other than stock-in* trade. If, like the income tax, the tax as applying to land were upon a sliding scale tho aggregation of vast, holdings m tho hands of individuals i would be discouraged and the cause of 1 settlement consequently promoted.- It [ may suit Sir Henry to suggest that a , land tax must necessarily press heavily • upon the farmer, but nobody knows . better than he that it would be quite possible to levy it m such a way as to press less heavily on the farmer than r does the present property tax, and ho also knows that none of the advocates ol a land and income tax propose to tax :' bjotfy tjje land and tho income derived from it, although, fpr the sake of plat form effect, he chooses to assume that that is the case. Nobody who has heard - him at his best will deny that the Premier ig very skilful m twisting facts and arguments into a form which suits his own views, and which often goes down with his hearers as unanswerable logic, but the Ancklanders are evidently birds who cannot be caught with chaff oratorical, and they refuse to be charmed, charm he never so wisely. His expedi tion to the Northern City has evidently not been a success, and it only remains to him now to join m tho refrain of a writer m Holy Writ, who complained to , his hearers that ho had piped to them and they had not danced, had mourned and they had not lamented.