The Property Tax in America.
Some of the results recorded in connection with the working of the property tax in America are very curious. One of the most experienced assessors of the State of New York, in giving his evidence before a committee of Congress, said : “No man and no Corporation, banks only excepted, need pay a tax upon personal property. Widows and orphans must pay. Upon them, in the extremity of their distress, the law lays its heavy band. It bereaves the bereaved.” Ten years ago, in 1879, the State of California adopted a new constitution for the purpose of more efficiently levying taxes on personal property. An American writer, commenting this year upon the results obtained under this new constitution, says ; ‘ 1 It was supposed alike by the friends and enemies of the new constitution that under its operation personal property of every description would be thoroughly reached, and that at any rate whatever was by any chance overlooked would be more than made up by double taxation in that which was found (holders of stock were avowedly and intentionally subjected to double taxation, first upon the corporate property, and again upon the capital stock). The actual result has been to falsify all the predictions of both the friends and the enemies of the constitution, for the reason that the capacity of the patriotic taxpayer to commit perjury, and the susceptibility of the assessors to bribery, had been altogether under-esti-mated. Some of the results are positively ludicrous. If the assessment returns are to be believed, there is not a pound of butter on hand in nine-tenths of California ; in four-fifths of the State the sheep produce no wool; fifty-counties have innumerable beehives, but only four have any honey; personal property is vanishing from San Francisco; loans of money are becoming unknown in the rest of the State; bonds of cities and municipalities of all kinds are not held within the State to an amount equal to one-sixth of the county bonds outstanding alone; and finally, money has been smitten by a pestilence, two-thirds of all that there was before the adoption of the constitution having already taken to itself wings and the remainder being evidently on the way.” Some remarkable statistics leading in the same direction have recently been published in connection with the State of Ohio. In 1882 there were 118,280 watches entered on the property schedules of the citizens of Ohio; in 1887, though their wealth and the population had enormously increased in the meantime, they only had 114,681 watches between them. The same thing with carriages—in 1882 they had 254,918, in 1887 only 224,440; money in hand—in 1882 46,160,000d01i in 1887 only 30,132,000d01. Auckland ‘Star,’
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The Property Tax in America., Evening Star, Issue 7912, 21 May 1889
The Property Tax in America. Evening Star, Issue 7912, 21 May 1889
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