British Budgets 1887-88 to 1912-13

By Bernard Mallet | Go to book overview

NOTES ON THE SUCCEEDING TABLES.

(1) GENERAL REMARKS ON CLASSIFICATION.

WITHOUT going so far as to assert with an eminent financial critic of the last generation that "the information in the budget, finance accounts, statistical abstract and special parliamentary returns about Imperial taxation is vitiated by cardinal errors of arrangement and definition, which obscure the subject and mislead public opinion," it may be admitted that the method of classification adopted in them is little calculated to assist the consideration of some of the questions which, as we have seen, have been most discussed in recent Parliaments. It neither indicates which of the taxes may be considered "direct" and which "indirect," which are taxes on capital and revenue and which are taxes on commodities and consumption, nor draws any distinction between items of non-tax revenue so different in character as post office receipts and Suez Canal dividends. There is, indeed, one classification which, though it does not actually appear as an official publication, is constantly referred to in budget speeches and discussions, namely, that which gives the proportion between the amount of direct and indirect taxation (see Table XIV.). Such a statement kept up through a series of years has a certain utility as roughly indicating the tendency

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