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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/170

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

priests, and people have long since passed away; but if they could return, their gratitude to the English tax commission for the service rendered to their country and to their descendants would certainly again be recognized and fitly commemorated.

Another point of historical and fiscal interest in connection with Egypt is worthy of notice. Of the conquest and occupation of Egypt by the French, 1798-1801, the masses of its people have but little knowledge; but the name of General Kléber, to whom the government of the country was intrusted by Napoleon on his return to France, is still held in grateful remembrance, coupled with the highest title that the Arabs could bestow upon him—namely, "The Just"—because under his rule, as popular expression has it, "he levied taxes only once."[1]

Taxation in Brazil.—A most striking and instructive example of the strangulation of the commerce of a country, and its consequent impoverishment by reason of a vicious system for the collection of revenues, is to be found in the recent experience of the South American state of Brazil. Its Government derives its support mainly from export and import duties, and every province, whether maritime or interior, collects a separate duty of generally about four or five per cent on its exports, to which in some instances a municipal tax is added. There is no taxation upon either real or personal property; but when a piece of real estate is sold, the purchaser is required to pay a fee to the Government of five per cent on the selling price. All stores are obliged to obtain a license, for which a fee is exacted, the amount varying with the kind of trade. The duties on imports are extremely heavy, and on many articles, especially foods, are in excess of their original cost at their place of production. On some of the principal articles of export the duties have been as high as twenty-three per cent ad valorem, on rubber and cocoa fourteen per cent, and thirteen per cent on coffee. Few countries have greater commercial and industrial possibilities than Brazil; but Nature's prodigal efforts have been rendered futile by a vicious system of taxation, which has so restricted the development of her resources that the increase of exports in recent years has been mainly confined to the single article of India rubber, for the supply of which the country has practically a monopoly. What is raised in Brazil is taxed;


  1. For the material which has furnished the basis for the foregoing narrative of the recent fiscal (tax) experience of Egypt, the writer has been mainly indebted to a book, England in Egypt, London, 1894, by Sir Alfred Milner, formerly a member of the Egyptian Fiscal Commission, and now chairman of the British Board of Inland Revenue; to a series of letters published in the London Times in 1894; to various official documents, and interviews with those personally conversant with the subject under consideration.