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An Inquiry Into The Nature And Causes Of The Wealth Of Nations - Chapter 2, Part 2 continue C

1. Introduction And Plan Of The Work

2. Book 1, Chapter 1

3. Chapter 2

4. Chapter 3

5. Chapter 4

6. Chapter 5

7. Chapter 6

8. Chapter 7

9. Chapter 8

10. Chapter 8 continue

11. Chapter 9

12. Chapter 10

13. Chapter 10 continue

14. Chapter 11

15. Chapter 11 continue

16. Chapter 11 continue.

17. Chapter 11 continue..

18. Chapter 11 continue...

19. Conclusion of the Chapter 11

20. Book 2 Introduction

21. Chapter 1

22. Chapter II

23. Chapter II continue

24. Chapter II continue

25. Chapter 3

26. Chapter 4

27. Chapter 5

28. Book 3, Chapter 1

29. Chapter 2

30. Chapter 3

31. Chapter 4

32. Book 4, Chapter 1

33. Chapter 1 continue

34. Chapter 2

35. Chapter 3, Part 1

36. Chapter 3, Part 2

37. Chapter 4

38. Chapter 5

39. Chapter 5 continue

40. Chapter 6

41. Chapter 7, Part 1

42. Chapter 7, Part 2

43. Chapter 7, Part 3

44. Chapter 7, Part 3 continue

45. Chapter 8

46. Chapter 9

47. Book 5, Chapter 1, Part 1

48. Chapter 1, Part 2

49. Chapter 1, Part 3

50. Chapter 1, Part 3 continue

51. Chapter 1, Part 3 continue B

52. Chapter 1, Part 4

53. Chapter 2, Part 1

54. Chapter 2, Part 2

55. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue

56. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue B

57. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue C

58. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue D

59. Chapter 3

60. Chapter 3 continue







ARTICLE III.--Taxes upon the Wages of Labour.

The wages of the inferior classes of work men, I have endeavoured to
show in the first book are everywhere necessarily regulated by two
different circumstances; the demand for labour, and the ordinary or
average price of provisions. The demand for labour, according as it
happens to be either increasing stationary or declining; or to require
an increasing, stationary, or declining population, regulates the
subsistence of the labourer, and determines in what degree it shall
be either liberal, moderate, or scanty. The ordinary average price of
provisions determines the quantity of money which must be paid to the
workman, in order to enable him, one year with another, to purchase
this liberal, moderate, or scanty subsistence. While the demand for the
labour and the price of provisions, therefore, remain the same, a direct
tax upon the wages of labour can have no other effect, than to raise
them somewhat higher than the tax. Let us suppose, for example, that,
in a particular place, the demand for labour and the price of provisions
were such as to render ten shillings a-week the ordinary wages of
labour; and that a tax of one-fifth, or four shillings in the pound, was
imposed upon wages. If the demand for labour and the price of provisions
remained the same, it would still be necessary that the labourer should,
in that place, earn such a subsistence as could be bought only for ten
shillings a-week; so that, after paying the tax, he should have ten
shillings a-week free wages. But, in order to leave him such free wages,
after paying such a tax, the price of labour must, in that place, soon
rise, not to twelve shillings a week only, but to twelve and sixpence;
that is, in order to enable him to pay a tax of one-fifth, his wages
must necessarily soon rise, not one-fifth part only, but one-fourth.
Whatever was the proportion of the tax, the wages of labour must, in all
cases rise, not only in that proportion, but in a higher proportion. If
the tax for example, was one-tenth, the wages of labour must necessarily
soon rise, not one-tenth part only, but one-eighth.

A direct tax upon the wages of labour, therefore, though the labourer
might, perhaps, pay it out of his hand, could not properly be said to be
even advanced by him; at least if the demand for labour and the average
price of provisions remained the same after the tax as before it. In all
such cases, not only the tax, but something more than the tax, would
in reality be advanced by the person who immediately employed him. The
final payment would, in different cases, fall upon different persons.
The rise which such a tax might occasion in the wages of manufacturing
labour would be advanced by the master manufacturer, who would both be
entitled and obliged to charge it, with a profit, upon the price of his
goods. The final payment of this rise of wages, therefore, together with
the additional profit of the master manufacturer would fall upon the
consumer. The rise which such a tax might occasion in the wages of
country labour would be advanced by the farmer, who, in order to
maintain the same number of labourers as before, would be obliged to
employ a greater capital. In order to get back this greater capital,
together with the ordinary profits of stock, it would be necessary that
he should retain a larger portion, or, what comes to the same thing,
the price of a larger portion, of the produce of the land, and,
consequently, that he should pay less rent to the landlord. The final
payment of this rise of wages, therefore, would, in this case, fall upon
the landlord, together with the additional profit of the farmer who had
advanced it. In all cases, a direct tax upon the wages of labour must,
in the long-run, occasion both a greater reduction in the rent of land,
and a greater rise in the price of manufactured goods than would have
followed from the proper assessment of a sum equal to the produce of
the tax, partly upon the rent of land, and partly upon consumable
commodities.

If direct taxes upon the wages of labour have not always occasioned a
proportionable rise in those wages, it is because they have generally
occasioned a considerable fall in the demand of labour. The declension
of industry, the decrease of employment for the poor, the diminution of
the annual produce of the land and labour of the country, have generally
been the effects of such taxes. In consequence of them, however, the
price of labour must always be higher than it otherwise would have
been in the actual state of the demand; and this enhancement of price,
together with the profit of those who advance it, must always be finally
paid by the landlords and consumers.

A tax upon the wages of country labour does not raise the price of the
rude produce of land in proportion to the tax; for the same reason
that a tax upon the farmer's profit does not raise that price in that
proportion.

Absurd and destructive as such taxes are, however, they take place in
many countries. In France, that part of the taille which is charged
upon the industry of workmen and day-labourers in country villages, is
properly a tax of this kind. Their wages are computed according to the
common rate of the district in which they reside; and, that they may be
as little liable as possible to any overcharge, their yearly gains
are estimated at no more than two hundred working days in the year.
{Memoires concernant les Droits, etc. tom. ii. p. 108.} The tax of
each individual is varied from year to year, according to different
circumstances, of which the collector or the commissary, whom intendant
appoints to assist him, are the judges. In Bohemia, in consequence of
the alteration in the system of finances which was begun in 1748, a very
heavy tax is imposed upon the industry of artificers. They are divided
into four classes. The highest class pay a hundred florins a year,
which, at two-and-twenty pence half penny a-florin, amounts to 9:7:6.
The second class are taxed at seventy; the third at fifty; and the
fourth, comprehending artificers in villages, and the lowest class of
those in towns, at twenty-five florins. {Memoires concemant les Droits,
etc. tom. iii. p. 87.}

The recompence of ingenious artists, and of men of liberal professions,
I have endeavoured to show in the first book, necessarily keeps a
certain proportion to the emoluments of inferior trades. A tax upon
this recompence, therefore, could have no other effect than to raise
it somewhat higher than in proportion to the tax. If it did not rise in
this manner, the ingenious arts and the liberal professions, being; no
longer upon a level with other trades, would be so much deserted, that
they would soon return to that level.

The emoluments of offices are not, like those of trades and professions,
regulated by the free competition of the market, and do not, therefore,
always bear a just proportion to what the nature of the employment
requires. They are, perhaps, in most countries, higher than it requires;
the persons who have the administration of government being generally
disposed to regard both themselves and their immediate dependents,
rather more than enough. The emoluments of offices, therefore, can, in
most cases, very well bear to be taxed. The persons, besides, who enjoy
public offices, especially the more lucrative, are, in all countries,
the objects of general envy; and a tax upon their emoluments, even
though it should be somewhat higher than upon any other sort of revenue,
is always a very popular tax. In England, for example, when, by the
land-tax, every other sort of revenue was supposed to be assessed at
four shillings in the pound, it was very popular to lay a real tax of
five shillings and sixpence in the pound upon the salaries of offices
which exceeded a hundred pounds a-year; the pensions of the younger
branches of the royal family, the pay of the officers of the army and
navy, and a few others less obnoxious to envy, excepted. There are in
England no other direct taxes upon the wages of labour.

ARTICLE IV.--Taxes which it is intended should fall indifferently upon
every different Species of Revenue.

The taxes which it is intended should fall indifferently upon every
different species of revenue, are capitation taxes, and taxes upon
consumable commodities. Those must be paid indifferently, from whatever
revenue the contributors may possess; from the rent of their land, from
the profits of their stock, or from the wages of their labour.

Capitation Taxes.

Capitation taxes, if it is attempted to proportion them to the fortune
or revenue of each contributor, become altogether arbitrary. The state
of a man's fortune varies from day to day; and, without an inquisition,
more intolerable than any tax, and renewed at least once every year,
can only be guessed at. His assessment, therefore, must, in most
cases, depend upon the good or bad humour of his assessors, and must,
therefore, be altogether arbitrary and uncertain.

Capitation taxes, if they are proportioned, not to the supposed fortune,
but to the rank of each contributor, become altogether unequal; the
degrees of fortune being frequently unequal in the same degree of rank.

Such taxes, therefore, if it is attempted to render them equal, become
altogether arbitrary and uncertain; and if it is attempted to render
them certain and not arbitrary, become altogether unequal. Let the tax
be light or heavy, uncertainty is always a great grievance. In a light
tax, a considerable degree of inequality may be supported; in a heavy
one, it is altogether intolerable.

In the different poll-taxes which took place in England during the
reign of William III. the contributors were, the greater part of them,
assessed according to the degree of their rank; as dukes, marquises,
earls, viscounts, barons, esquires, gentlemen, the eldest and youngest
sons of peers, etc. All shop-keepers and tradesmen worth more than three
hundred pounds, that is, the better sort of them, were subject to the
same assessment, how great soever might be the difference in their
fortunes. Their rank was more considered than their fortune. Several of
those who, in the first poll-tax, were rated according to their supposed
fortune were afterwards rated according to their rank. Serjeants,
attorneys, and proctors at law, who, in the first poll-tax, were
assessed at three shillings in the pound of their supposed income, were
afterwards assessed as gentlemen. In the assessment of a tax which was
not very heavy, a considerable degree of inequality had been found less
insupportable than any degree of uncertainty.

In the capitation which has been levied in France, without-any
interruption, since the beginning of the present century, the highest
orders of people are rated according to their rank, by an invariable
tariff; the lower orders of people, according to what is supposed to
be their fortune, by an assessment which varies from year to year. The
officers of the king's court, the judges, and other officers in the
superior courts of justice, the officers of the troops, etc are assessed
in the first manner. The inferior ranks of people in the provinces
are assessed in the second. In France, the great easily submit to a
considerable degree of inequality in a tax which, so far as it affects
them, is not a very heavy one; but could not brook the arbitrary
assessment of an intendant.

The inferior ranks of people must, in that country, suffer patiently the
usage which their superiors think proper to give them.

In England, the different poll-taxes never produced the sum which
had been expected from them, or which it was supposed they might have
produced, had they been exactly levied. In France, the capitation always
produces the sum expected from it. The mild government of England, when
it assessed the different ranks of people to the poll-tax, contented
itself with what that assessment happened to produce, and required no
compensation for the loss which the state might sustain, either by those
who could not pay, or by those who would not pay (for there were many
such), and who, by the indulgent execution of the law, were not
forced to pay. The more severe government of France assesses upon each
generality a certain sum, which the intendant must find as he can.
If any province complains of being assessed too high, it may, in
the assessment of next year, obtain an abatement proportioned to the
overcharge of the year before; but it must pay in the mean time. The
intendant, in order to be sure of finding the sum assessed upon his
generality, was empowered to assess it in a larger sum, that the failure
or inability of some of the contributors might be compensated by the
overcharge of the rest; and till 1765, the fixation of this surplus
assessment was left altogether to his discretion. In that year, indeed,
the council assumed this power to itself. In the capitation of the
provinces, it is observed by the perfectly well informed author of the
Memoirs upon the Impositions in France, the proportion which falls
upon the nobility, and upon those whose privileges exempt them from the
taille, is the least considerable. The largest falls upon those subject
to the taille, who are assessed to the capitation at so much a-pound of
what they pay to that other tax. Capitation taxes, so far as they are
levied upon the lower ranks of people, are direct taxes upon the wages
of labour, and are attended with all the inconveniencies of such taxes.

Capitation taxes are levied at little expense; and, where they are
rigorously exacted, afford a very sure revenue to the state. It is upon
this account that, in countries where the case, comfort, and security
of the inferior ranks of people are little attended to, capitation taxes
are very common. It is in general, however, but a small part of the
public revenue, which, in a great empire, has ever been drawn from such
taxes; and the greatest sum which they have ever afforded, might always
have been found in some other way much more convenient to the people.

Taxes upon Consumable Commodities.

The impossibility of taxing the people, in proportion to their revenue,
by any capitation, seems to have given occasion to the invention of
taxes upon consumable commodities. The state not knowing how to tax,
directly and proportionably, the revenue of its subjects, endeavours to
tax it indirectly by taxing their expense, which, it is supposed, will,
in most cases, be nearly in proportion to their revenue. Their expense
is taxed, by taxing the consumable commodities upon which it is laid
out.

Consumable commodities are either necessaries or luxuries.

By necessaries I understand, not only the commodities which are
indispensibly necessary for the support of life, but whatever the custom
of the country renders it indecent for creditable people, even of the
lowest order, to be without. A linen shirt, for example, is, strictly
speaking, not a necessary of life. The Greeks and Romans lived, I
suppose, very comfortably, though they had no linen. But in the present
times, through the greater part of Europe, a creditable day-labourer
would be ashamed to appear in public without a linen shirt, the want of
which would be supposed to denote that disgraceful degree of poverty,
which, it is presumed, nobody can well fall into without extreme bad
conduct. Custom, in the same manner, has rendered leather shoes a
necessary of life in England. The poorest creditable person, of either
sex, would be ashamed to appear in public without them. In Scotland,
custom has rendered them a necessary of life to the lowest order of men;
but not to the same order of women, who may, without any discredit, walk
about barefooted. In France, they are necessaries neither to men nor to
women; the lowest rank of both sexes appearing there publicly, without
any discredit, sometimes in wooden shoes, and sometimes barefooted.
Under necessaries, therefore, I comprehend, not only those things which
nature, but those things which the established rules of decency have
rendered necessary to the lowest rank of people. All other things I call
luxuries, without meaning, by this appellation, to throw the smallest
degree of reproach upon the temperate use of them. Beer and ale, for
example, in Great Britain, and wine, even in the wine countries, I call
luxuries. A man of any rank may, without any reproach, abstain totally
from tasting such liquors. Nature does not render them necessary for the
support of life; and custom nowhere renders it indecent to live without
them.

As the wages of labour are everywhere regulated, partly by the demand
for it, and partly by the average price of the necessary articles of
subsistence; whatever raises this average price must necessarily raise
those wages; so that the labourer may still be able to purchase that
quantity of those necessary articles which the state of the demand for
labour, whether increasing, stationary, or declining, requires that he
should have. {See book i.chap. 8} A tax upon those articles necessarily
raises their price somewhat higher than the amount of the tax, because
the dealer, who advances the tax, must generally get it back, with a
profit. Such a tax must, therefore, occasion a rise in the wages of
labour, proportionable to this rise of price.

It is thus that a tax upon the necessaries of life operates exactly in
the same manner as a direct tax upon the wages of labour. The labourer,
though he may pay it out of his hand, cannot, for any considerable time
at least, be properly said even to advance it. It must always, in the
long-run, be advanced to him by his immediate employer, in the advanced
state of wages. His employer, if he is a manufacturer, will charge upon
the price of his goods the rise of wages, together with a profit, so
that the final payment of the tax, together with this overcharge, will
fall upon the consumer. If his employer is a farmer, the final payment,
together with a like overcharge, will fall upon the rent of the
landlord.

It is otherwise with taxes upon what I call luxuries, even upon those
of the poor. The rise in the price of the taxed commodities, will
not necessarily occasion any rise in the wages of labour. A tax upon
tobacco, for example, though a luxury of the poor, as well as of the
rich, will not raise wages. Though it is taxed in England at three
times, and in France at fifteen times its original price, those high
duties seem to have no effect upon the wages of labour. The same thing
maybe said of the taxes upon tea and sugar, which, in England and
Holland, have become luxuries of the lowest ranks of people; and of
those upon chocolate, which, in Spain, is said to have become so.

The different taxes which, in Great Britain, have, in the course of the
present century, been imposed upon spiritous liquors, are not supposed
to have had any effect upon the wages of labour. The rise in the price
of porter, occasioned by an additional tax of three shillings upon the
barrel of strong beer, has not raised the wages of common labour in
London. These were about eighteen pence or twenty pence a-day before the
tax, and they are not more now.

The high price of such commodities does not necessarily diminish the
ability of the inferior ranks of people to bring up families. Upon the
sober and industrious poor, taxes upon such commodities act as sumptuary
laws, and dispose them either to moderate, or to refrain altogether from
the use of superfluities which they can no longer easily afford. Their
ability to bring up families, in consequence of this forced frugality,
instead of being diminished, is frequently, perhaps, increased by the
tax. It is the sober and industrious poor who generally bring up the
most numerous families, and who principally supply the demand for useful
labour. All the poor, indeed, are not sober and industrious; and the
dissolute and disorderly might continue to indulge themselves in the
use of such commodities, after this rise of price, in the same manner as
before, without regarding the distress which this indulgence might bring
upon their families. Such disorderly persons, however, seldom rear up
numerous families, their children generally perishing from neglect,
mismanagement, and the scantiness or unwholesomeness of their food. If
by the strength of their constitution, they survive the hardships to
which the bad conduct of their parents exposes them, yet the example
of that bad conduct commonly corrupts their morals; so that, instead of
being useful to society by their industry, they become public nuisances
by their vices and disorders. Through the advanced price of the luxuries
of the poor, therefore, might increase somewhat the distress of such
disorderly families, and thereby diminish somewhat their ability to
bring up children, it would not probably diminish much the useful
population of the country.

Any rise in the average price of necessaries, unless it be compensated
by a proportionable rise in the wages of labour, must necessarily
diminish, more or less, the ability of the poor to bring up numerous
families, and, consequently, to supply the demand for useful labour;
whatever may be the state of that demand, whether increasing,
stationary, or declining; or such as requires an increasing, stationary,
or declining population.

Taxes upon luxuries have no tendency to raise the price of any
other commodities, except that of the commodities taxed. Taxes upon
necessaries, by raising the wages of labour, necessarily tend to raise
the price of all manufactures, and consequently to diminish the extent
of their sale and consumption. Taxes upon luxuries are finally paid by
the consumers of the commodities taxed, without any retribution. They
fall indifferently upon every species of revenue, the wages of labour,
the profits of stock, and the rent of land. Taxes upon necessaries,
so far as they affect the labouring poor, are finally paid, partly by
landlords, in the diminished rent of their lands, and partly by rich
consumers, whether landlords or others, in the advanced price of
manufactured goods; and always with a considerable overcharge. The
advanced price of such manufactures as are real necessaries of life, and
are destined for the consumption of the poor, of coarse woollens, for
example, must be compensated to the poor by a farther advancement
of their wages. The middling and superior ranks of people, if they
understood their own interest, ought always to oppose all taxes upon the
necessaries of life, as well as all taxes upon the wages of labour.
The final payment of both the one and the other falls altogether
upon themselves, and always with a considerable overcharge. They fall
heaviest upon the landlords, who always pay in a double capacity; in
that of landlords, by the reduction, of their rent; and in that of rich
consumers, by the increase of their expense. The observation of Sir
Matthew Decker, that certain taxes are, in the price of certain goods,
sometimes repeated and accumulated four or five times, is perfectly
just with regard to taxes upon the necessaries of life. In the price of
leather, for example, you must pay not only for the tax upon the leather
of your own shoes, but for a part of that upon those of the shoemaker
and the tanner. You must pay, too, for the tax upon the salt, upon the
soap, and upon the candles which those workmen consume while employed in
your service; and for the tax upon the leather, which the saltmaker,
the soap-maker, and the candle-maker consume, while employed in their
service.

In Great Britain, the principal taxes upon the necessaries of life, are
those upon the four commodities just now mentioned, salt, leather, soap,
and candles.

Salt is a very ancient and a very universal subject of taxation. It was
taxed among the Romans, and it is so at present in, I believe, every
part of Europe. The quantity annually consumed by any individual is so
small, and may be purchased so gradually, that nobody, it seems to have
been thought, could feel very sensibly even a pretty heavy tax upon it.
It is in England taxed at three shillings and fourpence a bushel;
about three times the original price of the commodity. In some other
countries, the tax is still higher. Leather is a real necessary of life.
The use of linen renders soap such. In countries where the winter nights
are long, candles are a necessary instrument of trade. Leather and soap
are in Great Britain taxed at three halfpence a-pound; candles at a
penny; taxes which, upon the original price of leather, may amount to
about eight or ten per cent.; upon that of soap, to about twenty or
five-and-twenty per cent.; and upon that of candles to about fourteen or
fifteen per cent.; taxes which, though lighter than that upon salt, are
still very heavy. As all those four commodities are real necessaries of
life, such heavy taxes upon them must increase somewhat the expense of
the sober and industrious poor, and must consequently raise more or less
the wages of their labour.

In a country where the winters are so cold as in Great Britain, fuel is,
during that season, in the strictest sense of the word, a necessary
of life, not only for the purpose of dressing victuals, but for the
comfortable subsistence of many different sorts of workmen who work
within doors; and coals are the cheapest of all fuel. The price of fuel
has so important an influence upon that of labour, that all over Great
Britain, manufactures have confined themselves principally to the coal
counties; other parts of the country, on account of the high price
of this necessary article, not being able to work so cheap. In some
manufactures, besides, coal is a necessary instrument of trade; as in
those of glass, iron, and all other metals. If a bounty could in any
case be reasonable, it might perhaps be so upon the transportation of
coals from those parts of the country in which they abound, to those
in which they are wanted. But the legislature, instead of a bounty, has
imposed a tax of three shillings and threepence a-ton upon coals carried
coastways; which, upon most sorts of coal, is more than sixty per cent.
of the original price at the coal pit. Coals carried, either by land or
by inland navigation, pay no duty. Where they are naturally cheap, they
are consumed duty free; where they are naturally dear, they are loaded
with a heavy duty.

Such taxes, though they raise the price of subsistence, and consequently
the wages of labour, yet they afford a considerable revenue to
government, which it might not be easy to find in any other way. There
may, therefore, be good reasons for continuing them. The bounty upon the
exportation of corn, so far us it tends, in the actual state of tillage,
to raise the price of that necessary article, produces all the like bad
effects; and instead of affording any revenue, frequently occasions a
very great expense to government. The high duties upon the importation
of foreign corn, which, in years of moderate plenty, amount to a
prohibition; and the absolute prohibition of the importation, either of
live cattle, or of salt provisions, which takes place in the ordinary
state of the law, and which, on account of the scarcity, is at present
suspended for a limited time with regard to Ireland and the British
plantations, have all had the bad effects of taxes upon the necessaries
of life, and produce no revenue to government. Nothing seems necessary
for the repeal of such regulations, but to convince the public of
the futility of that system in consequence of which they have been
established.

Taxes upon the necessaries of life are much higher in many other
countries than in Great Britain. Duties upon flour and meal when ground
at the mill, and upon bread when baked at the oven, take place in many
countries. In Holland the money-price of the: bread consumed in towns
is supposed to be doubled by means of such taxes. In lieu of a part of
them, the people who live in the country, pay every year so much a-head,
according to the sort of bread they are supposed to consume. Those who
consume wheaten bread pay three guilders fifteen stivers; about six
shillings and ninepence halfpenny. Those, and some other taxes of the
same kind, by raising the price of labour, are said to have ruined the
greater part of the manufactures of Holland {Memoires concernant les
Droits, etc. p. 210, 211.}. Similar taxes, though not quite so heavy,
take place in the Milanese, in the states of Genoa, in the duchy of
Modena, in the duchies of Parma, Placentia, and Guastalla, and the
Ecclesiastical state. A French author {Le Reformateur} of some note, has
proposed to reform the finances of his country, by substituting in the
room of the greater part of other taxes, this most ruinous of all taxes.
There is nothing so absurd, says Cicero, which has not sometimes been
asserted by some philosophers.

Taxes upon butcher's meat are still more common than those upon
bread. It may indeed be doubted, whether butcher's meat is any where a
necessary of life. Grain and other vegetables, with the help of milk,
cheese, and butter, or oil, where butter is not to be had, it is known
from experience, can, without any butcher's meat, afford the most
plentiful, the most wholesome, the most nourishing, and the most
invigorating diet. Decency nowhere requires that any man should eat
butcher's meat, as it in most places requires that he should wear a
linen shirt or a pair of leather shoes.

Consumable commodities, whether necessaries or luxuries, may be taxed in
two different ways. The consumer may either pay an annual sum on account
of his using or consuming goods of a certain kind; or the goods may be
taxed while they remain in the hands of the dealer, and before they
are delivered to the consumer. The consumable goods which last a
considerable time before they are consumed altogether, are most properly
taxed in the one way; those of which the consumption is either immediate
or more speedy, in the other. The coach-tax and plate tax are examples
of the former method of imposing; the greater part of the other duties
of excise and customs, of the latter.

A coach may, with good management, last ten or twelve years. It might
be taxed, once for all, before it comes out of the hands of the
coach-maker. But it is certainly more convenient for the buyer to pay
four pounds a-year for the privilege of keeping a coach, than to pay all
at once forty or forty-eight pounds additional price to the coach-maker;
or a sum equivalent to what the tax is likely to cost him during the
time he uses the same coach. A service of plate in the same manner, may
last more than a century. It is certainly-easier for the consumer to pay
five shillings a-year for every hundred ounces of plate, near one per
cent. of the value, than to redeem this long annuity at five-and-twenty
or thirty years purchase, which would enhance the price at least
five-and-twenty or thirty per cent. The different taxes which affect
houses, are certainly more conveniently paid by moderate annual
payments, than by a heavy tax of equal value upon the first building or
sale of the house.

It was the well-known proposal of Sir Matthew Decker, that all
commodities, even those of which the consumption is either immediate or
speedy, should be taxed in this manner; the dealer advancing nothing,
but the consumer paying a certain annual sum for the licence to consume
certain goods. The object of his scheme was to promote all the different
branches of foreign trade, particularly the carrying trade, by taking
away all duties upon importation and exportation, and thereby enabling
the merchant to employ his whole capital and credit in the purchase of
goods and the freight of ships, no part of either being diverted towards
the advancing of taxes, The project, however, of taxing, in this manner,
goods of immediate or speedy consumption, seems liable to the four
following very important objections. First, the tax would be more
unequal, or not so well proportioned to the expense and consumption
of the different contributors, as in the way in which it is commonly
imposed. The taxes upon ale, wine, and spiritous liquors, which are
advanced by the dealers, are finally paid by the different consumers,
exactly in proportion to their respective consumption. But if the tax
were to be paid by purchasing a licence to drink those liquors, the
sober would, in proportion to his consumption, be taxed much more
heavily than the drunken consumer. A family which exercised great
hospitality, would be taxed much more lightly than one who entertained
fewer guests. Secondly, this mode of taxation, by paying for an annual,
half-yearly, or quarterly licence to consume certain goods, would
diminish very much one of the principal conveniences of taxes upon
goods of speedy consumption; the piece-meal payment. In the price of
threepence halfpenny, which is at present paid for a pot of porter,
the different taxes upon malt, hops, and beer, together with the
extraordinary profit which the brewer charges for having advanced
than, may perhaps amount to about three halfpence. If a workman can
conveniently spare those three halfpence, he buys a pot of porter. If
he cannot, he contents himself with a pint; and, as a penny saved is a
penny got, he thus gains a farthing by his temperance. He pays the tax
piece-meal, as he can afford to pay it, and when he can afford to pay
it, and every act of payment is perfectly voluntary, and what he can
avoid if he chuses to do so. Thirdly, such taxes would operate less
as sumptuary laws. When the licence was once purchased, whether the
purchaser drunk much or drunk little, his tax would be the same.
Fourthly, if a workman were to pay all at once, by yearly, half-yearly,
or quarterly payments, a tax equal to what he at present pays, with
little or no inconveniency, upon all the different pots and pints
of porter which he drinks in any such period of time, the sum might
frequently distress him very much. This mode of taxation, therefore,
it seems evident, could never, without the most grievous oppression,
produce a revenue nearly equal to what is derived from the present mode
without any oppression. In several countries, however, commodities of
an immediate or very speedy consumption are taxed in this manner. In
Holland, people pay so much a-head for a licence to drink tea. I have
already mentioned a tax upon bread, which, so far as it is consumed in
farm houses and country villages, is there levied in the same manner.

The duties of excise are imposed chiefly upon goods of home produce,
destined for home consumption. They are imposed only upon a few sorts
of goods of the most general use. There can never be any doubt, either
concerning the goods which are subject to those duties, or concerning
the particular duty which each species of goods is subject to. They fall
almost altogether upon what I call luxuries, excepting always the four
duties above mentioned, upon salt, soap, leather, candles, and perhaps
that upon green glass.

The duties of customs are much more ancient than those of excise. They
seem to have been called customs, as denoting customary payments, which
had been in use for time immemorial. They appear to have been originally
considered as taxes upon the profits of merchants. During the barbarous
times of feudal anarchy, merchants, like all the other inhabitants of
burghs, were considered as little better than emancipated bondmen, whose
persons were despised, and whose gains were envied. The great nobility,
who had consented that the king should tallage the profits of their own
tenants, were not unwilling that he should tallage likewise those of an
order of men whom it was much less their interest to protect. In those
ignorant times, it was not understood, that the profits of merchants are
a subject not taxable directly; or that the final payment of all such
taxes must fall, with a considerable overcharge, upon the consumers.

The gains of alien merchants were looked upon more unfavourably than
those of English merchants. It was natural, therefore, that those of
the former should be taxed more heavily than those of the latter.
This distinction between the duties upon aliens and those upon English
merchants, which was begun from ignorance, has been continued front the
spirit of monopoly, or in order to give our own merchants an advantage,
both in the home and in the foreign market.

With this distinction, the ancient duties of customs were imposed
equally upon all sorts of goods, necessaries as well its luxuries, goods
exported as well as goods imported. Why should the dealers in one sort
of goods, it seems to have been thought, be more favoured than those in
another? or why should the merchant exporter be more favoured than the
merchant importer?

The ancient customs were divided into three branches. The first, and,
perhaps, the most ancient of all those duties, was that upon wool and
leather. It seems to have been chiefly or altogether an exportation
duty. When the woollen manufacture came to be established in England,
lest the king should lose any part of his customs upon wool by the
exportation of woollen cloths, a like duty was imposed upon them. The
other two branches were, first, a duty upon wine, which being imposed
at so much a-ton, was called a tonnage; and, secondly, a duty upon all
other goods, which being imposed at so much a-pound of their supposed
value, was called a poundage. In the forty-seventh year of Edward III.,
a duty of sixpence in the pound was imposed upon all goods exported
and imported, except wools, wool-felts, leather, and wines which were
subject to particular duties. In the fourteenth of Richard II.,
this duty was raised to one shilling in the pound; but, three years
afterwards, it was again reduced to sixpence. It was raised to
eightpence in the second year of Henry IV.; and, in the fourth of
the same prince, to one shilling. From this time to the ninth year of
William III., this duty continued at one shilling in the pound. The
duties of tonnage and poundage were generally granted to the king by one
and the same act of parliament, and were called the subsidy of tonnage
and poundage. The subsidy of poundage having continued for so long a
time at one shilling in the pound, or at five per cent., a subsidy came,
in the language of the customs, to denote a general duty of this kind of
five per cent. This subsidy, which is now called the old subsidy, still
continues to be levied, according to the book of rates established by
the twelfth of Charles II. The method of ascertaining, by a book of
rates, the value of goods subject to this duty, is said to be older than
the time of James I. The new subsidy, imposed by the ninth and tenth of
William III., was an additional five per cent. upon the greater part
of goods. The one-third and the two-third subsidy made up between them
another five per cent. of which they were proportionable parts. The
subsidy of 1747 made a fourth five per cent. upon the greater part of
goods; and that of 1759, a fifth upon some particular sorts of goods.
Besides those five subsidies, a great variety of other duties have
occasionally been imposed upon particular sorts of goods, in order
sometimes to relieve the exigencie's of the state, and sometimes to
regulate the trade of the country, according to the principles of the
mercantile system.

That system has come gradually more and more into fashion. The
old subsidy was imposed indifferently upon exportation, as well as
importation. The four subsequent subsidies, as well as the other duties
which have since been occasionally imposed upon particular sorts
of goods, have, with a few exceptions, been laid altogether upon
importation. The greater part of the ancient duties which had
been imposed upon the exportation of the goods of home produce and
manufacture, have either been lightened or taken away altogether. In
most cases, they have been taken away. Bounties have even been given
upon the exportation of some of them. Drawbacks, too, sometimes of the
whole, and, in most cases, of a part of the duties which are paid
upon the importation of foreign goods, have been granted upon their
exportation. Only half the duties imposed by the old subsidy upon
importation, are drawn back upon exportation; but the whole of those
imposed by the latter subsidies and other imposts are, upon the greater
parts of the goods, drawn back in the same manner. This growing favour
of exportation, and discouragement of importation, have suffered only
a few exceptions, which chiefly concern the materials of some
manufactures. These our merchants and manufacturers are willing should
come as cheap as possible to themselves, and as dear as possible to
their rivals and competitors in other countries. Foreign materials are,
upon this account, sometimes allowed to be imported duty-free; spanish
wool, for example, flax, and raw linen yarn. The exportation of the
materials of home produce, and of those which are the particular produce
of our colonies, has sometimes been prohibited, and sometimes subjected
to higher duties. The exportation of English wool has been prohibited.
That of beaver skins, of beaver wool, and of gum-senega, has been
subjected to higher duties; Great Britain, by the conquests of Canada
and Senegal, having got almost the monopoly of those commodities.

That the mercantile system has not been very favourable to the revenue
of the great body of the people, to the annual produce of the land and
labour of the country, I have endeavoured to show in the fourth book of
this Inquiry. It seems not to have been more favourable to the revenue
of the sovereign; so far, at least, as that revenue depends upon the
duties of customs.

In consequence of that system, the importation of several sorts of goods
has been prohibited altogether. This prohibition has, in some cases,
entirely prevented, and in others has very much diminished, the
importation of those commodities, by reducing the importers to the
necessity of smuggling. It has entirely prevented the importation of
foreign wollens; and it has very much diminished that of foreign silks
and velvets, In both cases, it has entirely annihilated the revenue of
customs which might have been levied upon such importation.

The high duties which have been imposed upon the importation of
many different sorts of foreign goods in order to discourage their
consumption in Great Britain, have, in many cases, served only to
encourage smuggling, and, in all cases, have reduced the revenues of the
customs below what more moderate duties would have afforded. The saying
of Dr. Swift, that in the arithmetic of the customs, two and two,
instead of making four, make sometimes only one, holds perfectly true
with regard to such heavy duties, which never could have been imposed,
had not the mercantile system taught us, in many cases, to employ
taxation as an instrument, not of revenue, but of monopoly.

The bounties which are sometimes given upon the exportation of home
produce and manufactures, and the drawbacks which are paid upon the
re-exportation of the greater part of foreign goods, have given occasion
to many frauds, and to a species of smuggling, more destructive of
the public revenue than any other. In order to obtain the bounty or
drawback, the goods, it is well known, are sometimes shipped, and sent
to sea, but soon afterwards clandestinely re-landed in some other part
of the country. The defalcation of the revenue of customs occasioned by
bounties and drawbacks, of which a great part are obtained fraudulently,
is very great. The gross produce of the customs, in the year which ended
on the 5th of January 1755, amounted to 5,068,000. The bounties which
were paid out of this revenue, though in that year there was no bounty
upon corn, amounted to 167,806. The drawbacks which were paid upon
debentures and certificates, to 2,156,800. Bounties and drawbacks
together amounted to 2,324,600. In consequence of these deductions, the
revenue of the customs amounted only to 2,743,400; from which deducting
287,900 for the expense of management, in salaries and other
incidents, the neat revenue of the customs for that year comes out to
be 2,455,500. The expense of management, amounts, in this manner, to
between five and six per cent. upon the gross revenue of the customs;
and to something more than ten per cent. upon what remains of that
revenue, after deducting what is paid away in bounties and drawbacks.

Heavy duties being imposed upon almost all goods imported, our merchant
importers smuggle as much, and make entry of as little as they can.
Our merchant exporters, on the contrary, make entry of more than they
export; sometimes out of vanity, and to pass for great dealers in goods
which pay no duty gain a bounty back. Our exports, in consequence of
these different frauds, appear upon the custom-house books greatly
to overbalance our imports, to the unspeakable comfort of those
politicians, who measure the national prosperity by what they call the
balance of trade.

All goods imported, unless particularly exempted, and such exemptions
are not very numerous, are liable to some duties of customs. If any
goods are imported, not mentioned in the book of rates, they are taxed
at 4s:9d. for every twenty shillings value, according to the oath
of the importer, that is, nearly at five subsidies, or five poundage
duties. The book of rates is extremely comprehensive, and enumerates a
great variety of articles, many of them little used, and, therefore, not
well known. It is, upon this account, frequently uncertain under
what article a particular sort of goods ought to be classed, and,
consequently what duty they ought to pay. Mistakes with regard to this
sometimes ruin the custom-house officer, and frequently occasion much
trouble, expense, and vexation to the importer. In point of perspicuity,
precision, and distinctness, therefore, the duties of customs are much
inferior to those of excise.

In order that the greater part of the members of any society should
contribute to the public revenue, in proportion to their respective
expense, it does not seem necessary that every single article of that
expense should be taxed. The revenue which is levied by the duties of
excise is supposed to fall as equally upon the contributors as that
which is levied by the duties of customs; and the duties of excise
are imposed upon a few articles only of the most general used and
consumption. It has been the opinion of many people, that, by proper
management, the duties of customs might likewise, without any loss
to the public revenue, and with great advantage to foreign trade, be
confined to a few articles only.

The foreign articles, of the most general use and consumption in
Great Britain, seem at present to consist chiefly in foreign wines and
brandies; in some of the productions of America and the West Indies,
sugar, rum, tobacco, cocoa-nuts, etc. and in some of those of the East
Indies, tea, coffee, china-ware, spiceries of all kinds, several sorts
of piece-goods, etc. These different articles afford, the greater part
of the perhaps, at present, revenue which is drawn from the duties of
customs. The taxes which at present subsist upon foreign manufactures,
if you except those upon the few contained in the foregoing enumeration,
have, the greater part of them, been imposed for the purpose, not of
revenue, but of monopoly, or to give our own merchants an advantage in
the home market. By removing all prohibitions, and by subjecting all
foreign manufactures to such moderate taxes, as it was found from
experience, afforded upon each article the greatest revenue to the
public, our own workmen might still have a considerable advantage in
the home market; and many articles, some of which at present afford
no revenue to government, and others a very inconsiderable one, might
afford a very great one.

High taxes, sometimes by diminishing the consumption of the taxed
commodities, and sometimes by encouraging smuggling frequently afford
a smaller revenue to government than what might be drawn from more
moderate taxes.

When the diminution of revenue is the effect of the diminution of
consumption, there can be but one remedy, and that is the lowering
of the tax. When the diminution of revenue is the effect of the
encouragement given to smuggling, it may, perhaps, be remedied in two
ways; either by diminishing the temptation to smuggle, or by increasing
the difficulty of smuggling. The temptation to smuggle can be diminished
only by the lowering of the tax; and the difficulty of smuggling can be
increased only by establishing that system of administration which is
most proper for preventing it.

The excise laws, it appears, I believe, from experience, obstruct and
embarrass the operations of the smuggler much more effectually than
those of the customs. By introducing into the customs a system of
administration as similar to that of the excise as the nature of the
different duties will admit, the difficulty of smuggling might be very
much increased. This alteration, it has been supposed by many people,
might very easily be brought about.

The importer of commodities liable to any duties of customs, it has been
said, might, at his option, be allowed either to carry them to his own
private warehouse; or to lodge them in a warehouse, provided either
at his own expense or at that of the public, but under the key of the
custom-house officer, and never to be opened but in his presence. If
the merchant carried them to his own private warehouse, the duties to
be immediately paid, and never afterwards to be drawn back; and that
warehouse to be at all times subject to the visit and examination of
the custom-house officer, in order to ascertain how far the quantity
contained in it corresponded with that for which the duty had been paid.
If he carried them to the public warehouse, no duty to be paid till they
were taken out for home consumption. If taken out for exportation, to
be duty-free; proper security being always given that they should be
so exported. The dealers in those particular commodities, either
by wholesale or retail, to be at all times subject to the visit and
examination of the custom-house officer; and to be obliged to justify,
by proper certificates, the payment of the duty upon the whole quantity
contained in their shops or warehouses. What are called the excise
duties upon rum imported, are at present levied in this manner; and the
same system of administration might, perhaps, be extended to all duties
upon goods imported; provided always that those duties were, like the
duties of excise, confined to a few sorts of goods of the most general
use and consumption. If they were extended to almost all sorts of goods,
as at present, public warehouses of sufficient extent could not easily
be provided; and goods of a very delicate nature, or of which the
preservation required much care and attention, could not safely be
trusted by the merchant in any warehouse but his own.

If, by such a system of administration, smuggling to any considerable
extent could be prevented, even under pretty high duties; and if every
duty was occasionally either heightened or lowered according as it was
most likely, either the one way or the other, to afford the greatest
revenue to the state; taxation being always employed as an instrument of
revenue, and never of monopoly; it seems not improbable that a revenue,
at least equal to the present neat revenue of the customs, might be
drawn from duties upon the importation of only a few sorts of goods of
the most general use and consumption; and that the duties of customs
might thus be brought to the same degree of simplicity, certainty, and
precision, as those of excise. What the revenue at present loses by
drawbacks upon the re-exportation of foreign goods, which are afterwards
re-landed and consumed at home, would, under this system, be saved
altogether. If to this saving, which would alone be very considerable,
were added the abolition of all bounties upon the exportation of home
produce; in all cases in which those bounties were not in reality
drawbacks of some duties of excise which had before been advanced; it
cannot well be doubted, but that the neat revenue of customs might,
after an alteration of this kind, be fully equal to what it had ever
been before.

If, by such a change of system, the public revenue suffered no loss,
the trade and manufactures of the country would certainly gain a very
considerable advantage. The trade in the commodities not taxed, by far
the greatest number would be perfectly free, and might be carried on
to and from all parts of the world with every possible advantage. Among
those commodities would be comprehended all the necessaries of life, and
all the materials of manufacture. So far as the free importation of
the necessaries of life reduced their average money price in the home
market, it would reduce the money price of labour, but without reducing
in any respect its real recompence. The value of money is in proportion
to the quantity of the necessaries of life which it will purchase. That
of the necessaries of life is altogether independent of the quantity
of money which can be had for them. The reduction in the money price of
labour would necessarily be attended with a proportionable one in that
of all home manufactures, which would thereby gain some advantage in all
foreign markets. The price of some manufactures would be reduced, in a
still greater proportion, by the free importation of the raw materials.
If raw silk could be imported from China and Indostan, duty-free, the
silk manufacturers in England could greatly undersell those of both
France and Italy. There would be no occasion to prohibit the importation
of foreign silks and velvets. The cheapness of their goods would secure
to our own workmen, not only the possession of a home, but a very great
command of the foreign market. Even the trade in the commodities taxed,
would be carried on with much more advantage than at present. If those
commodities were delivered out of the public warehouse for foreign
exportation, being in this case exempted from all taxes, the trade in
them would be perfectly free. The carrying trade, in all sorts of goods,
would, under this system, enjoy every possible advantage. If these
commodities were delivered out for home consumption, the importer not
being obliged to advance the tax till he had an opportunity of selling
his goods, either to some dealer, or to some consumer, he could always
afford to sell them cheaper than if he had been obliged to advance it
at the moment of importation. Under the same taxes, the foreign trade
of consumption, even in the taxed commodities, might in this manner be
carried on with much more advantage than it is at present.

It was the object of the famous excise scheme of Sir Robert Walpole,
to establish, with regard to wine and tobacco, a system not very unlike
that which is here proposed. But though the bill which was then brought
into Parliament, comprehended those two commodities only, it was
generally supposed to be meant as an introduction to a more extensive
scheme of the same kind. Faction, combined with the interest of
smuggling merchants, raised so violent, though so unjust a clamour,
against that bill, that the minister thought proper to drop it; and,
from a dread of exciting a clamour of the same kind, none of his
successors have dared to resume the project.

The duties upon foreign luxuries, imported for home consumption, though
they sometimes fall upon the poor, fall principally upon people of
middling or more than middling fortune. Such are, for example, the
duties upon foreign wines, upon coffee, chocolate, tea, sugar, etc.

The duties upon the cheaper luxuries of home produce, destined for home
consumption, fall pretty equally upon people of all ranks, in proportion
to their respective expense. The poor pay the duties upon malt, hops,
beer, and ale, upon their own consumption; the rich, upon both their own
consumption and that of their servants.

The whole consumption of the inferior ranks of people, or of those
below the middling rank, it must be observed, is, in every country, much
greater, not only in quantity, but in value, than that of the middling,
and of those above the middling rank. The whole expense of the inferior
is much greater titan that of the superior ranks. In the first place,
almost the whole capital of every country is annually distributed
among the inferior ranks of people, as the wages of productive labour.
Secondly, a great part of the revenue, arising from both the rent of
land and the profits of stock, is annually distributed among the
same rank, in the wages and maintenance of menial servants, and other
unproductive labourers. Thirdly, some part of the profits of stock
belongs to the same rank, as a revenue arising from the employment of
their small capitals. The amount of the profits annually made by small
shopkeepers, tradesmen, and retailers of all kinds, is everywhere
very considerable, and makes a very considerable portion of the annual
produce. Fourthly and lastly, some part even of the rent of land belongs
to the same rank; a considerable part to those who are somewhat below
the middling rank, and a small part even to the lowest rank; common
labourers sometimes possessing in property an acre or two of land.
Though the expense of those inferior ranks of people, therefore, taking
them individually, is very small, yet the whole mass of it, taking them
collectively, amounts always to by much the largest portion of the whole
expense of the society; what remains of the annual produce of the land
and labour of the country, for the consumption of the superior ranks,
being always much less, not only in quantity, but in value. The taxes
upon expense, therefore, which fall chiefly upon that of the superior
ranks of people, upon the smaller portion of the annual produce,
are likely to be much less productive than either those which fall
indifferently upon the expense of all ranks, or even those which fall
chiefly upon that of the inferior ranks, than either those which fall
indifferently upon the whole annual produce, or those which fall
chiefly upon the larger portion of it. The excise upon the materials
and manufacture of home-made fermented and spirituous liquors, is,
accordingly, of all the different taxes upon expense, by far the most
productive; and this branch of the excise falls very much, perhaps
principally, upon the expense of the common people. In the year which
ended on the 5th of July 1775, the gross produce of this branch of the
excise amounted to 3,341,837:9:9.

It must always be remembered, however, that it is the luxuries, and not
the necessary expense of the inferior ranks of people, that ought ever
to be taxed. The final payment of any tax upon their necessary expense,
would fall altogether upon the superior ranks of people; upon the
smaller portion of the annual produce, and not upon the greater. Such a
tax must, in all cases, either raise the wages of labour, or lessen the
demand for it. It could not raise the wages of labour, without throwing
the final payment of the tax upon the superior ranks of people. It could
not lessen the demand for labour, without lessening the annual produce
of the land and labour of the country, the fund upon which all taxes
must be finally paid. Whatever might be the state to which a tax of this
kind reduced the demand for labour, it must always raise wages higher
than they otherwise would be in that state; and the final payment of
this enhancement of wages must, in all cases, fall upon the superior
ranks of people.

Fermented liquors brewed, and spiritous liquors distilled, not for sale,
but for private use, are not in Great Britain liable to any duties of
excise. This exemption, of which the object is to save private families
from the odious visit and examination of the tax-gatherer, occasions
the burden of those duties to fall frequently much lighter upon the rich
than upon the poor. It is not, indeed, very common to distil for private
use, though it is done sometimes. But in the country, many middling and
almost all rich and great families, brew their own beer. Their strong
beer, therefore, costs them eight shillings a-barrel less than it costs
the common brewer, who must have his profit upon the tax, as well as
upon all the other expense which he advances. Such families, therefore,
must drink their beer at least nine or ten shillings a-barrel cheaper
than any liquor of the same quality can be drank by the common people,
to whom it is everywhere more convenient to buy their beer, by little
and little, from the brewery or the ale-house. Malt, in the same manner,
that is made for the use of a private family, is not liable to the visit
or examination of the tax-gatherer but, in this case the family must
compound at seven shillings and sixpence a-head for the tax. Seven
shillings and sixpence are equal to the excise upon ten bushels of malt;
a quantity fully equal to what all the different members of any sober
family, men, women, and children, are, at an average, likely to consume.
But in rich and great families, where country hospitality is much
practised, the malt liquors consumed by the members of the family make
but a small part of the consmnption of the house. Either on account
of this composition, however, or for other reasons, it is not near so
common to malt as to brew for private use. It is difficult to imagine
any equitable reason, why those who either brew or distil for private
use should not be subject to a composition of the same kind.

A greater revenue than what is at present drawn from all the heavy taxes
upon malt, beer, and ale, might be raised, it has frequently been said,
by a much lighter tax upon malt; the opportunities of defrauding the
revenue being much greater in a brewery than in a malt-house; and those
who brew for private use being exempted from all duties or composition
for duties, which is not the case with those who malt for private use.

In the porter brewery of London, a quarter of malt is commonly brewed
into more than two barrels and a-half, sometimes into three barrels of
porter. The different taxes upon malt amount to six shillings a-quarter;
those upon strong ale and beer to eight shillings a-barrel. In the
porter brewery, therefore, the different taxes upon malt, beer, and ale,
amount to between twenty-six and thirty shillings upon the produce of
a quarter of malt. In the country brewery for common country sale, a
quarter of malt is seldom brewed into less than two barrels of strong,
and one barrel of small beer; frequently into two barrels and a-half of
strong beer. The different taxes upon small beer amount to one shilling
and fourpence a-barrel. In the country brewery, therefore, the different
taxes upon malt, beer, and ale, seldom amount to less than twenty-three
shillings and fourpence, frequently to twenty-six shillings, upon the
produce of a quarter of malt. Taking the whole kingdom at an average,
therefore, the whole amount of the duties upon malt, beer, and ale,
cannot be estimated at less than twenty-four or twenty-five shillings
upon the produce of a quarter of malt. But by taking off all the
different duties upon beer and ale, and by trebling the malt tax, or by
raising it from six to eighteen shilling's upon the quarter of malt, a
greater revenue, it is said, might be raised by this single tax, than
what is at present drawn from all those heavier taxes.




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