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Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (Classics)
ISBN 0140400192 / 9780140400199 / 0-14-040019-2
Publisher Penguin Books Ltd
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Excerpt: ...were laid on income, on wine, or on any other luxury, he would suffer no injury if by the taxation of necessaries, he should 319 be only called upon for the payment of 25l., as far as his own consumption of necessaries, and that of his family was concerned, but should be required to repeat this tax three times, by paying an additional price for other commodities to remunerate the labourers, or their employers, for the tax which they have been called upon to advance. Even in that case the reasoning is inconclusive: for if there be no more paid than what is required by Government; of what importance can it be to the rich consumer, whether he pay the tax directly, by paying an increased price for an object of luxury, or indirectly, by paying an increased price for the necessaries and other commodities he consumes? If more be not paid by the people, than what is received by Government, the rich consumer will only pay his equitable share; if more is paid, Adam Smith should have stated by whom it is received. M. Say does not appear to me to have consistently adhered to the obvious principle, which I have quoted from his able work; for in the next page, speaking of taxation, he says, "When it is pushed too far, it produces 320 this lamentable effect, it deprives the contributor of a portion of his riches, without enriching the state. This is what we may comprehend, if we consider that every man's power of consuming, whether productively or not, is limited by his income. He cannot then be deprived of a part of his income, without being obliged proportionally to reduce his consumption. Hence arises a diminution of demand for those goods, which he no longer consumes, and particularly for those on which the tax is imposed. From this diminution of demand, there results a diminution of production, and consequently of taxable commodities. The contributor then will lose a portion of his enjoyments; the producer, a portion of his profits; and the treasury, a... [via]