WE have seen that taxes on raw produce, and on the profits of the farmer, will fall on the consumer of raw produce; since, unless he had the power of remunerating himself by an increase of price, the tax would reduce his profits below the general level of profits, and would urge him to remove his capital to some other trade. We have seen, too, that he could not, by deducting it from his rent, transfer the tax to his landlord; because that farmer who paid no rent would, equally with the cultivator of better land, be subject to the tax, whether it were laid on raw produce or on the profits of the farmer. I have also attempted to show that if a tax were general, and affected equally all profits, whether manufacturing or agricultural, it would not operate either on the price of goods or raw produce, but would be immediately, as well as ultimately, paid by the producers. A tax on rent, it has been observed, would fall on the landlord only, and could not by any means be made to devolve on the tenant.
The poor rate is a tax which partakes of the nature of all these taxes, and, under different circumstances, falls on the consumer of raw produce and goods, on the profits of stock, and on the rent of land. It is a tax which falls with peculiar weight on the profits of the farmer, and therefore may be considered as affecting the price of raw produce. According to the degree in which it bears on manufacturing and agricultural profits equally, it will be a general tax on the profits of stock, and will occasion no alteration in the price of raw produce and manufactures. In proportion to the farmer's inability to remunerate himself, by raising the price of raw produce for that portion of the tax which peculiarly affects him, it will be a tax on rent and will be paid by the landlord. To know, then, the operation of the poor rate at any particular time, we must ascertain whether at that time it affects in an equal or an unequal degree the profits of the farmer and manufacturer; and also whether the circumstances be such as to afford to the farmer the power of raising the price of raw produce.
The poor rates are professed to be levied on the farmer in