Tax and tax system at different times

It is said that nothing is as inevitable as death and taxes. On whether this is really how taxes were collected in the past and how people's attitudes to tax evolved and changed.

How the taxes came about and and what was charged at different times
How the taxes came about and and what was charged at different times

"But the fruit shall be that you shall give the fifth unto Pharaoh, and the four remaining unto you both seed of the field, and nourishment unto you and to them that are in your house, and to your little children," reads the Old Testament.

One tax for free people, one for slaves, one for real citizens, one for people of other lands - that was the tax system in ancient Rome. Tax references can also be found in the Hamurapi Law Book of the Babylonian King.

All of this starts to occur for two reasons. The first reason is that people are starting to produce more than they can consume, which means that the physically strongest is simply taking away from the weaker.

And in fact, this is how the hierarchy of society is formed, and based on that, there will be power structures, and those power structures will be the ones that will charge these droppings, fees, later taxes.

To this day, we are well aware of one of the taxes of the Roman Empire, namely the toilet tax introduced by King Titus Flavian Vespasian. And we know this because he replied to his son's accusation of such a tax with the legendary phrase - money doesn't smell.

But what other taxes were there in Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire?

As far as taxes are concerned, we are certainly seeing Ancient Greece in a systematic way. And in Ancient Greece, so they were both paying import tariffs because they were Greek city-states. Consequently, everything imported from another city-state was already regarded as a foreign product, in modern language, and was subject to duties.

Next up were consumption taxes. That is, in the case of purchase or sale of goods, the mark-up is actually payable as a levy. It was paid to the rulers. As for the form in which they were collected. These fees were mostly in kind and in the form of money. It was already there in ancient Greece, it is more pronounced in Rome, but then disappears almost completely until the late Middle Ages in the Middle Ages, when all these fees turn into cash.

The Romans are interesting because they had huge differences.

What taxes were paid by the freedmen and what taxes were paid by slaves? Slaves also paid taxes. What followed was the difference between what the real Romans paid and what the inhabitants of the conquered territories paid. And of course, Roman is Roman, and so his view of these lower-class folk was special.

The typical tax was the Tributum. This is a head tax that everyone actually has to pay. And later there was that centesima rerum venalium. It is a commodity tax that we might call a turnover tax. So was inheritance tax and land tax. They were the most widespread ones that survive the longest.

In later times, the distribution of taxes depending on who collects them appears because there is a completely different company structure and there are three major tax collectors. The first is the king, the second is the church and the third is the senior or feudal lord. These taxes are all very arbitrary and such firmly fixed taxes start to appear regularly only in the 12th century, if it can be considered.

For example, in the Middle Ages, a king could tax if he had to hold a daughter's wedding or prepare for another war. In the case of the war, food and horses were stripped from the citizens.

One of the biggest tax measures is something very, very typical even before the proper tax system was in place. These are the typical passage taxes that worked in the small states of the Middle Ages, all the Duchesses, the Principals, the Counties and so on. Because these countries are small and the merchant wishing to move their goods, this passage tax had to be paid at each frontier.

Further, as trade was not as extensive as regular trade (there were more fairs), there was a so-called market tax, where you pay a fee, either in commodities or in monetary terms, for your participation in this market.

But the formation of an orderly tax system is linked to the Great French Revolution. The Great French Revolution is generally considered as a starting point, since capitalism was emerging until then, and this can be seen as the dividing line when it finally emerged. Following the Great French Revolution, four taxes are introduced, the most interesting of which is the window and door tax.

Four taxes considered to be stable taxes to be levied by the State

So it's a land tax. The following is personal and movable property tax. And patent tax. But this patent tax is to be understood as a patent for the exercise of its professional activity. Once purchased, anyone can become a craftsman, not as it was in the Middle Ages, where craftsmen outside the cunts, for example, were persecuted. They could not actually pursue their professional activities. The fourth tax is the door and window tax. The latter is a story of how they were avoided at the time and was not the only tax people tried to circumvent and defraud.

There is a city in Italy, Alberta Bela, wherein the 17th century it was taxed on cement mortar. And the duke gathered the people from the neighbourhood, who were very happy, and allowed them to build small houses next to each other. They were built of limestone, simply stacking stones. And if an inspection comes in, the houses are very easy to dismantle and are just a pile of stones. So no one can even prove that there were such houses.

A typical example is the taxes on windows. Taxes on the windows and doors facing the street, the facade, as if trying to determine the owner's wealth, were very popular in many places. There is a narrow façade that will have a couple of windows to keep the tax low. On the other hand, inside the courtyard of the building, you can see the whole building and it will be long or even L-shape, with many windows. This was the way to get out of the situation.

Adam Smith

As far as the theory of the tax system is concerned, mention must be made of the Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith, the founder of economic liberalism, who developed the theory of the tax system in the mid-18th century.

Smith has a lot of speculation about what taxes make sense and what don't. And, for example, he has the idea that it doesn't make sense to tax workers' wages. Because if we want the workers to pay this tax, it is not actually the workers who will pay it. So this tax will actually be included in the price of the goods. And so, in effect, this tax will be paid by the purchaser of the goods.

In the same way, he also argues that it makes no sense to tax the profits of entrepreneurs, since it is not the companies that will pay the tax. It will be the buyers who pay the tax. This is the essence.

He also developed four principles for how the tax system should look. These are ideal principles. The first is that every citizen must maintain a state. It is his duty. Whatever his position in the country, he is responsible for paying that tax. According to their own social situation, according to their income, but everyone pays taxes, without exception.

The second principle is that this tax is strictly fixed. Today, we understand it better in the business context, because any entrepreneur needs to know the tax rates to consider to calculate their costs.

The third principle was that this tax should be paid at a time convenient to the payer. This is especially true for farmers, since it is not logical to charge a farmer in the spring when he can barely pull it to the sow, as he will save every grain to sow and wait for the first results. But in the autumn he can pay the tax.

And the fourth principle is that the tax system must be easy to administer.

By Mexicanist