Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/175

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PRINCIPLES OF TAXATION.

of Bristol Cathedral at that time while the building was being repaired. The hotel and the church to the left of the cathedral are also recognized by him.

A more transparent fraud could hardly be devised, but its very imbecility assures its success. We may be certain that for many years to come the "Silent City" will be the "wonder and pride of Alaska's bleak hills," and tourists eager to "pierce the veil" will speculate on the probability of its being "perhaps altogether within the recesses of another world."

Thus it comes about, as I have elsewhere said, that "there is no intellectual craze so absurd as not to have a following among educated men and women. There is no scheme for the renovation of the social order so silly that educated men will not invest their money in it. There is no medical fraud so shameless that educated men will not give it their certificate. There is no nonsense so unscientific that men called educated will not accept it as science."

 

PRINCIPLES OF TAXATION.
By DAVID A. WELLS, LL. D., D. C. L.,

CORRESPONDANT DE L'INSTITUT DE FRANCE, ETC.

VIII.—NOMENCLATURE AND FORMS OF TAXATION.

THE most simple form of taxation is a poll or capitation tax. Both terms may be regarded as identical in use and meaning, but the former is probably more frequently used in tax treatises and discussions.

What is a Poll Tax?—In a strictly economic sense the essential requisite of a "poll" or "head" tax is that it be laid on all polls or heads, and be unvarying in amount. A varying poll tax would be an arbitrary exaction, and would not be sustained for a moment as a proper exercise of the right of taxation, if laid without reference to a man's ownership of property. So soon, however, as the amount of the tax exacted is made dependent upon the amount of the property owned, the tax ceases to be a varying poll tax, and becomes a tax on the property itself. The popular idea of a poll tax in the United States is an annual tax, small in amount, uniform as respects rate, and applicable only to adult male persons. Such conceptions are not, however, in accord with historical experience, which is to the effect that uniformity in assessment has never been an essential or even usual feature of this form of taxation, but as a rule the tax has been intentionally rated to the person assessed according to his rank and station and supposed property. The "poll" or "capitation" tax of history has, therefore, been rather an "income" than a per capita tax; and the