Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Following up on taxes

A little more on taxes. When I wrote my 2004 piece I had barely heard of Adam Smith, now while I have read the entire "Wealth of Nations" yet (it is on my list of books to read) I am familiar with a lot of his tenets, and I think my idea on taxes is actually a lot closer to what he advocated than the FAIR Tax.

I. The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the state, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is in proportion to the revenue they enjoy under the protection of the state. The expense of government to the individuals of a great nation, is like the expense of management to the joint tenants of a great estate, who are all obliged to contribute in proportion to their respective interests in the estate. In the observation or neglect of this maxim consists, what is called the equality or inequality of taxation. Every tax, it must be observed once for all, which falls finally upon one only of the three sorts of revenue above mentioned [rent, profit and wages], is necessarily unequal, in so far as it does not affect the other two. In the following examination of different taxes I shall seldom take much further notice of this sort of inequality, but shall, in most cases, confine my observations to that inequality which is occasioned by a particular tax falling unequally even upon that particular sort of private revenue which is affected by it.

II. The tax which each individual is bound to pay ought to be certain, and not arbitrary. . .

III. Every tax ought to be levied at the time, or in the manner, in which it is most likely to be convenient for the contributor to pay it. . . .

IV. Every tax ought to be so contrived as both to take out and to keep out of the pockets of the people as little as possible, over and above what it brings into the public treasure of the state. . . .
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