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

By Mabel Newcomer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
PARTIAL SEPARATION IN WEST VIRGINIA

I. HISTORY OF TAXATION IN WEST VIRGINIA

WEST VIRGINIA has in her constitution the provision, which she has tried in vain to abolish, that "taxation shall be equal and uniform throughout the state, and all property, both real and personal, shall be taxed in proportion to its value." Owing to this, West Virginia has never been able to employ special corporation taxes; but the state has succeeded in obtaining large revenues from an inheritance tax, licenses, and franchise taxes (for which last provision was specifically made in the constitution in 1872).1 The income from these sources is almost sufficient for state needs. As a result the state general property tax, except for school purposes, has been reduced until it yields a comparatively small revenue. This is the only instance of a state attempting, with fair success, to separate revenues without classifying property for taxation.

The fiscal system of West Virginia is based on the general property tax and licenses,--the usual form in the southern states. At the time that West Virginia was created as a separate state, in 1863, the Virginia system was continued, with the general property tax for the central tax of the state and of the local systems. The amount of state revenue which this tax yielded grew steadily until 1905, but the proportion of total state revenues from this source has gradually declined since 1875; for while the state direct tax increased but little more than one hundred per cent during

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1
Constitutions, article x, sec. 1.

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