Economic and Social History of Chowan County, North Carolina, 1880-1915

By Mabel Newcomer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
SEPARATION IN PENNSYLVANIA

I. HISTORY OF TAXATION IN PENNSYLVANIA

PENNSYLVANIA's experiments with special taxes led her early to fairly successful taxation of intangibles.1 As a result this state, like Delaware, has never depended long on the general property tax for state revenues, although for a few years it became the principal source of revenue.

A state direct tax was first levied in 1785, but being found to be both unsuccessful and unnecessary it was discontinued in 1789. The receipts from the sale of public lands and the interest on state investments supplied the larger part of state revenues for many years. These sources yielded 26.4 per cent and 36.2 per cent, respectively, of all state revenues in 1810 as compared with 23.6 per cent from taxes--which were mostly license taxes.2

Specified classes of personal property were first taxed by the state in, 1831, at the rate of one mill. In addition a one-mill state tax was added to all real and personal property taxed locally. These realty and personalty taxes were levied for only five years, it being confidently expected that the income from canals, railroads and other public works, whose cost of construction was the occasion of the levy, would soon be sufficient to support the state.3 They were

____________________
1
Infra, p. 38et seq.
2
Ely, op. cit., p. 45.
3
T. K. Worthington, "Historical Sketch of the Finances of Pennsylvania." American Economic Association Publications, vol. ii, no. 2, p. 38 ( 1887).

-37-

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