Open main menu

Page:Economic Development in Denmark Before and During the World War.djvu/110

This page has been validated.
94
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN DENMARK

scale which will automatically follow the fluctuation of prices.

These conditions are not surprising. At the very start the war afforded Denmark considerable economic advantages. The shipping trade appeared extremely prosperous, in spite of great losses in tonnage, and the agricultural population at once realized large profits, for instance, by the sale of their horses. But in the following periods the production has declined by reason of failing supplies, whereby the country was largely thrown back on its own resources. Thanks to the good cultivation of the soil, however, and to the high position of our agriculture, the result was surprisingly good, everything considered, though not so good but that the population was obliged to practise strict economy.

Recent Fiscal Measures

The measures instituted to help the lower classes of the population out of all these difficulties could not have been carried through, of course, without imposing great burdens on the state and municipalities. The result is a very great increase in taxes and an enormous growth of the public debt, as well as a deficit in the national budget which it may be very difficult in the future to make good. Danish legislators, like those of all countries, have had to use all their wits to create new sources of revenue. It would be too much of an undertaking to go through all their legislation, but a few outstanding features may be mentioned.

During the nineteenth century the income tax was a municipal assessment; only under certain extraordinary circumstances did it become a state tax. Originally the principle on which it was based was that of a proportionally equal tax for all. In the early part of the century (1810) a tax of 4) per cent. per annum was established on all incomes, with a deduction or exemption of 320 kroner ($86) applying to every income. Later on the exemption was somewhat enlarged. An act of February 19, 1861, relating to taxes