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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/52

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The duties levied on imports into Mexico are so excessive that the average rate of the Mexican tariff is probably greater than that adopted by any other country claiming to be civilized, with the possible exception of Russia. The favorite modern idea of making the tariff subserve two purposes—namely, the raising of revenue and the regulation of trade—does not appear as yet to have greatly interested either the people or Government of Mexico, as revenue, through the necessities of the state, is the supreme consideration; and for securing this no other rule seems to have been recognized and followed in imposing duties on imports than that the higher the duty (or tax) the greater will be the accruing revenue.

But with this general characterization of the Mexican tariff there comes in the following other most anomalous feature: Thus, in all commercial countries, save those which permit the levy by certain municipalities of the so-called octroi taxes, 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 so long as they retain such a distinctive character. In the United States, for example, it is held that the right to import carries with it a right to sell (i. e., in the original packages) without further restrictions. And the Supreme Court of the United States 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 this decision has been carefully recognized by the authorities of the several States in dealing with imported liquors under local license, or other restrictive laws.

But, in Mexico, each State of the republic has had practically its own custom-house system, and levies taxes on all goods—domestic and foreign—passing into its territory for the purpose of use or consumption; 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 ten per cent, and in others it has been as high as sixteen 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 common rule. Nor is this all. For the transit of every territorial boundary necessitates inspection, assessment, the preparation of bills of charges, and permits for entry; and all these trans