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ARE FULLY CONSIDERED,
VIEW TO FACILITATE ITS EXECUTION,
THE OFFICERS CHOSEN TO CARRY IT INTO EFFECT.
CLAUSES OF THE, ASSESSED TAX ACT
THAT HAVE A REFERENCE TO THIS,
A COPIOUS INDEX,
REFERRING BOTH TO THE ACT AND OBSERVATIONS
BUNNEY & GOLD,
THE satisfactory manner in which the Public received
I the Explanatory Observations upon the Aid and Con. tribution Act of last year, has induced a similar attempt
tion upon Income.
The reasons given by the Legislature for that fubftitution àre, the sundry instances of evasion experienced in the exe. cution of the former Act, and the inadequacy of its provi. sions in proportioning the assessments upon each person to his means of contributing to the public service. These reafons evince the intention of the Legislature to establish an equality of Taxation, as far as it is practicable by human means; and to keep in view in the provisions of the present Act the leading object of the former ; namely, the ascer. tainment, by juft and fair rules, of cach person's Income, in order to a proportionate Assessment.
The time and attention bestowed by the Legislature in the discussion of the present Act, in its progress through Parliament, may have occasioned a supposition, that in principle there is a material differencebetween the Act of last year and the present : it may therefore greatly promote a right under, Nanding of the subject to recollect that in the discussion, the time of Parliament has not been employed in examining the princia,
ple of either Act (for that principle has been uniformly ado mitted to be just, and exactly similar in both Acts), but in settling the mode of carrying that principle into effect.
The raising a large portion of the supplies necessary for the prosecution of the war within the year may be confidered as the leading political object; and the Contribution of the tenth part of the Income of the Communitý as the principle of both measures. The only essential difference be. tween them consists in the modes adopted for ascertaining and raising that contribution. Under the former Act, the various scales of assessment, by which, in the first instance, a different rate was imposed on persons according to the amount of their respeciive Affeffed Taxes, are not to be considered as involving the principle of the Act, but as the means of enforcing the principle.
On the same ground, the provisions, exempting from con. tribution persons not having an Income of 4.60 per annum, and the scales of contribution for those having Incomes between £ 60 and 6..200 per annum, are not to be considered as making part of the principle of either measure, but must be interpreted as exemptions and modifications, admitted by the Legislature, in favour of certain classes of the community, from a wise and liberal consideration of their circumstances, and a disinterested wish to relieve them, by an extended facrifice of the interests of the more opulent part of the community, as far aś was consistent with the principle of the Tax.
It must be in general recollection, that the criterion taken fast year, as the means of ascertaining Income, was expenditure, as evidenced by certain articles of general establishtwent only, and was even then admitted to be in many respecta imperfect ; but that was the only criterion that could, con. formable to any mode of taxation before practised, be resorted to as affording a probable means of ascertaining the amount of Income of individuals by a relative view to their expenditure, . It was fallacious inasmuch as it included some and wholly excluded others : as it included some in different proportions to their respective means; and as from the nature of the criterion it did not embrace a large portion of the property of the community enjoyed by political bodies or perfons not objects of those assessments which confti. tuted the basis of that contribution. It was also fallacious, inasmuch as, from a regard to antecedent prejudices, it fail,
ed to enforce its principle, by compelling a disclosure of Iria come : it left each individual to interpret the rules, and to estimate his Income, without controul, according to his private bias; it involved the honest and loyal, whilst the ditho. neft or disaffected escaped under their own interpretation.
These imperfections being seen and admitted, it became the province of the Legislature to provide an adequate re. medy, which they were enabled more effectually to do by an almost universal conviction having pervaded the public mind of the necessity of meeting the exigencies of the times by personal taxation, in proportion to the means of the individual; and by a similar determination to suffer the prejudice, arising from the apprehension of a disclosure of circumstances, to fubfide in favour of an effective and certain mode of enforce ing the juft principle of equal taxation.
The Income of Persons presents itself as the most obvious subject of equal taxation, without permanently affecting property from which the Income is derived. Income is continually renewing itself. The amount is ascertainable by positive evidence, and cannot be a subject of difficult enquiry, and seems peculiarly adapted to be the subject of a tax to provide for annual supplies. The disclosure of In. come however may, under certain circumstances, prove detrimental to the interest, the views or the expectations of the poffeffors : to guard against such possible injuries has been the sincere and laudable effort of the Legislature.
In the last Act, Income was the ultimate means of reducing an affefsment founded on the amount of former afsessments; in the present, it is made the primary means of afcertaining the assessment: both lead to the same end; of assessing every part of the community to the amount of one tenth of the Income possessed by them ; but pursue different modes to obtain that end.
It is obvious that the necessity of ascertaining Income, as the foundation of charge in the first instance, is calculated to bring forward more efectually every description of Income in the country, than the former mode ; which left unaffesed a very large portion of the Income of many, whose habits of expence were disproportionate to their means.