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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/303

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

JULY, 1886.


 

AN ECONOMIC STUDY OF MEXICO.
By Hon. DAVID A. WELLS.
IV.

TAXATION.—Of all the economic features of Mexico there is no one more novel, interesting, and instructive, and withal more antagonistic in its influence to the development of the country, than the system by which the Government—Federal, State, and municipal—raises the revenue essential to defray its necessary expenditures.

The general characteristics of the Mexican tariff, or system of taxing imports, have been already noticed. But one altogether anomalous and absurd feature of it remains to be pointed out. In all truly civilized countries, when foreign articles or merchandise have once satisfied all customs requirements at a port, or place of entry, and have been permitted to pass the frontier, they are exempted from any further taxation as imports, or so long as they retain such a distinctive character.[1] But, in Mexico, each State of the republic has practically its own custom-house system; and levies taxes on all goods—domestic and foreign—passing its borders; and then, in turn, the several towns of the States again assess all goods entering their respective precincts. The rate of State taxation, being determined by the several State Legislatures, varies, and varies continually with each State. In the Federal District—i. e., the city of Mexico—the rate was recently two per cent of the national tariff; but, in the adjoining State of Hidalgo, it was twelve and a half per cent, and in others it is as high as twenty-five per cent. The rate levied by the towns is said to be about nine per cent of what the State has exacted; but in this there is no

  1. The right to import is held to carry with it a right to sell on the part of the importer, without further restrictions, i. e., in the original packages. Thus, the United States Supreme Court has decided that a license-tax imposed by a State of the Federal Union, as a prerequisite to the right to sell an imported article, is equivalent to a duty on imports, and in violation of the provision of the Federal Constitution, which prohibits the States from imposing import duties; and the decision has been carefully recognized by the authorities of the several States in dealing with imported liquors under local license or other restrictive laws.