Taxation in American States and Cities

By Richard T. Ely | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX.
BUSINESS TAX.

BUSINESS should as a rule be left as free in its movements as possible, and in view of sharp interstate competition, the burden of taxation should be made as light as possible. Our commerce and our manufactures should be fostered, and on account of exemptions in rival ports, our shipping deserves special consideration, for it will leave us otherwise. Registered vessels engaged in foreign trade might, it would seem, with propriety be exempt from all taxation on their value, and be taxed only on earnings, as is the case with this shipping in Rhode Island and New York, and as was recommended in Connecticut by the tax commission's report of 1887. Vessels engaged in coastwise trade appear to require less aid, as they are not subjected to foreign competition, but care should be taken not to burden them too heavily. Perhaps some plan for taxing them on earnings might also be devised. It is to be observed that in New York City and elsewhere, although the laws impose taxation upon business, the actual practice does not.

The last message of Hon. A. S. Hewitt to the New York city council, dated Jan. 10, 1888, deals with the subjects of taxation, and is important for us in three respects. First, it reiterates what has been said about the injustice of our system of taxation. "The estates of widows and orphans and wards in chancery pay the Full amount of taxation required by law, although in most cases it can be least afforded,

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