Press enter after choosing selection

The Income Tax

The Income Tax image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

Unquestionably one of the wisest and most popular of the acts of the present house of representatives 'is the income tax provisión of the Wilson tariff bill. It is but an act of tardy justice and right, and yet those who have been accustomed to exemption from their full share of the burdens of taxation have seen fit to brand it as a war tax, sectional in its nature, and intended to place a penalty on thrift. Jts promoters were accused of favoring it from sectional motives and from a narrow spirit of envy and jealousy. That those who favor the income tax do so from such motives is absurd. VVriters upon Political Economy agree that it has more valid arguments in its favor than any other scheme of taxation. It is in every way a jtíst tax and this principie of justness should commend it to the favor of all good citizens. The followingextracts bearing upon the subject are taken from an article in the March number of the Forum by Hon. U. S. Hall, of Missouri, entitled "An Income Tax: Reasons in its Favor." He says: "The wealthy classes of the eastern states, who are now opposing us in the enactment of this bill, are embarrassing the best friends of a peaceful government. The principie that the wealth of this country should help to bear the burden of national taxation is too well settled by logic, by authority, and by experience, to justify extended argument now. Too often already have bers of this Congress been warned that, whenever the richer class should be asked to share the burdens of government, they, prompted by avarice, would denounce the suggestion. It is their posiü n, not mine, that needs defense. In a recent speech in the House of Representatives, I said: ' Were I called upon U frame a law that would keep down demagogy, that woiild take the last grain of justice from the conglomérate mass of l'opulistic heresies. it. would bt; au incometax law.' I sincerely feel that every word I said was true. Under our tariff system its burdens are put upon ! consumption fthe necessaries of life liat the poor must have or perish), md a poor man with a wife and five ;hildren is forced to pay out of his mail income a larger sum for the support of the government than is :he average man of great wealth with i small family; for, as Adam Srnith ays : 'The private revenue of individuáis Alises ultimately from three different 3ources: rent, protits, and wages. Every tax must finally be paid from some one or other of those three different sources of veveuue. or from all of them indiffereutly." But since there are more wealthy men in the East than elsewhere in our country, the greater burdens of an income tax would fall on the the East. Is this unfair? Does it justify raising the sectional question? Is it we of the West and South who raise it? But the opponents of the measure are bound to admit that there is some justice in this income tax. All the greatest authorities on taxation say that the subjects of a nation should be taxed to support that nation according to their ability, noi according to the section in which they live; recognizing that we should be common bearers and common supporters of a common country, ignoring sectionalism. I now ask my readers to divest themselves of prejudice and antagonism as far as their interests will pertnit, and dispassionately to read the following arguments and authorities in favor of an income tax, by by some of the wisest and greatest men that have ever written upon questions of national taxation. Senator John Sherman, in a speech delivered in the United States Senate; March 15, 1882, uses the following languagè: 'Tbë public mind is not yet prepared to apply the key of a genuine revenue reform. A few yeavs of f urther experience wlll convince the whole body of our people that a systeni of national taxes which rests the whole burden of taxation on consumption, and not one cent on property and income, is intrintrinsically unjust. Wliile the expenses of the national government are largely caused by the protection of property, it is but right to cali property to contribute to its payment. It will not do to say that each person consumes in proportion to his means. That is not true. Every one must see that the consumption of the rich does not bear the same relation to the consumption of the poor, as the income of the rich does to the wages of the poor. As wealth accumulates, this injustice in the fundamental basis of our system will be feit and f orced upon the attention of Congress Adam Smith says: 'The subjects of every state oughtto contribute toward the support of the government as nearly as possibïe in proportion totheir respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state. The expenses of government to the individuals of a gteat nation are like the expensesfof management to the joint tenants of a great estáte, who are all obliged to contribute in proportion to their respective interests in the estáte. In the observation or neglect of this maxim consists what is called the equality or inequality of taxation." Thorold Rogers says: 'Taxation in proportion to benefits received is sufficiently near the truth for the practical operations of government.' Rousseau and the eider Mirabeau, J. B. Say and Garnier, have approved of this System; white Sismondi, in la) ing down his canons of taxation, declares that 'every tax should fall on reveriue, not on capital,' and that 'taxation should never touch what is necessary for the existence of the contributor.' John Stuart Mili declares that 'equality of taxation, as a niaxini of politics, ! means equality of sacrifice;' while C. F. Bastable, professor of Political Economy in Dublin University, in his able work on "Public Finance" (published in 1S92) says: 'It is apparent that tlie rule of equal. ity of sacrifice is but anotlier mode of stating the rule of equality as to ability. Equal ability implieü equal capacity for be&ring sacrifice. Au equal charge wil] impose equal saorilice 11 pon persons of 'faculty,' and where abilities are unequal a corresponding inequality in tlie amount of Uixation will realize the aini of'eqnality of sacrilice. Among the many other able economie writers and national financiers who advocate au ineome tax, 1 will mention Richard T. Ely, professor of Political in Wisconsin University; and Prof. Robert Eli is Thompson, who says in his work on political economy: 'The most modern, and, theoretically, the fairest. form oï taxation, is the ineome tax. It seems to make everv one contribute to the wants of the state in proportion to the revenue he onjoys undèr its protection. While ialling equally on all, it occasions no change in the distribution of capital or in the material direction of industry, and bas no influence on prices. No other is so cheaply assessed or collected. No other brings home to the I people so forcibly the fact that it is to their interest to insist upon a wise economy of the national revenue.' I believe that the greatest safeguard against anarchy in this country is the great agricultural class. They have universally, in almost every meeting of the National Amanee, National grange, and kindred associations of farmers, asked for the passage of an income-tax law, - not as a matter of spite, nor as a matter of sectionalism, but as one of justice and right; and I sincerely hope they will receive the assurance of a cheerful acquiescence by the richer class, that we may be enabled to form 'a more perfect union, to establish justice, to ensure domesi tic tranquillity, and provide for a 1 common defense' against the common eneray of all countries in which universal suffrage exists. Those who think this tax cannót be collected are certainly ignorant of the fact that over 87 per cent of the income tax of England is collected in a similar marmer."


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News