Taxation in American States and Cities

By Richard T. Ely | Go to book overview

II.
REVENUES AND EXPENDITURES OF THE STATES

I. COMMENTS.

IN a comparative study of the tax systems of the various states, it is necessary to examine not only the provisions regarding taxation as found in the state constitutions or statutes, but also the results of those laws in operation, to be found in the reports of the financial officers of the states. An examination of the laws will make plain who should pay the taxes and, perhaps, what each should pay, but an examination of the budgets of the states will show who really pay the taxes, and how much they pay. In this present work, however, it will not be possible to make an analysis sufficiently detailed or extended to show, save in a general way, how great the burden of taxation is, upon whom it rests, and for what the revenues derived from taxes are expended. It is undertaken to give in brief the essential points to be gathered from the yearly financial reports.

This task of analysis -- or synthesis, as it has been in some cases -- has not been an easy one. In the first place, there is no approach to uniformity in the methods of keeping or publishing the accounts in the various states, nor in the classification of receipts and expenditures. In one state, for example all receipts are grouped according to their source in one grand list, and so of the expenditures; in another, the receipts and disbursements are grouped according to the funds into or from which they are paid, each fund

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