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MEMORANDUM ON TAXATIOX.
The following is a description of the system for determining the vote unit of value :
In Irish taxes there is, on the Imperial side, only one tax available for voting purposes, which is levied on real property, and of a direct nature, viz., the Income Tax. This amounted in 1882–3 to £556,490. There is no Land Tax nor Inhabited House Duty. Of the local taxes, the taxes on real property are as noted in table, p. 17. The others are as follows: (1) Fees of Clerks and Clerks of. Crown; (2) Petty Services, Stamps, and Crown Fines ; (3) Dog Licence, duty and dividends ; (4) Dublin Metropolitan Police (taxes from tolls, fees, stamps, not included in rates on real property); (5) Harbour Taxation paid by English ships and foreign ones, and on goods, &c. ; (6) Inland Navigation ; (7) Town Taxation (tolls, fees, stamps, &c., and other sources not being real property or before included); (8) Burial Board Receipts; (9) Poor Rates not on real property, but from other sources, or small amounts; (10) Light Dues; (11) Bridge and Ferry Tolls, amounting in all to £832,985
Add Real Property Taxes . L2,955,955
Now, all the eleven taxes noted above fully explain themselves. They are levied haphazard on anyone who may happen to come under them. They are not direct or constant in the sense of giving a vote, and, as they fall mostly on the rich, no complaint can be made by the poor that they are omitted in the voting claim. The matter is quite simple, when the fact is borne in mind that taxes and rates on real property only can be allowed to count. If, for instance, licences counted, a man might, in business, be paying £200 or £400 per annum for licences.
This tax he charges to his customers, who really pay it. It would be monstrous, therefore, to give this man 300 votes for his licence tax, putting aside the inexpediency of such a thing, in case of beer or spiritsellers, even were such an arrangement admissible in the case of any other sort of licence. Take a stamp-seller. Just the same rule applies. Stamps are a Government monopoly. Take again Burial Fees. All these special taxes depend on circumstances. This would be a tax that most certainly should not give voting power. Harbour and Light Dues are drawn from outsiders, and the money spent on harbour repairs and development. Bridge and Ferry Tolls are spent mostly on ferries and bridges. Road Taxes are put on roads, and proprietors here supplement these taxes by private payments. It may here be remarked that, if this system of voting obtains, the endeavour amongst the masses will be to increase their own voting power, and to lessen that of property. This appears to be the result of the voting movement now. If the value of the vote were determined to be £2. 48. instead of £1, the number of votes for property would be smaller, and the number opposed to property greater, so much greater, in fact, that property would be swamped. Of course it will be said that this depends upon the number of people who actually pay taxes. It is reasonable to assume that this number is very small, because of the enormous increase in the number of voters under the very slightly increased present franchise. The following details of the rating in counties and boroughs leads to this conclusion also.
The number of lands, tenements, and hereditaments in each Province and County, exclusive of boroughs, in Ireland in 1884, was—
. 242,974 . 266,399
475,376 . 984,749
(1) of £12 and over . . . . . . .
58,216 . 226,822 . 435,179 . 759,962
In Boroughs in Ireland, in 1884, the number of lands, tenements, and hereditaments rated at(1) over £4 was . . . . . . . . 105,712 (2) £4 and under
. . . . 58,022
Total . . 163,734 The number of inhabited houses in Boroughs in Ireland, in 1884, rated at(1) £12 and over, was . . . . . . . 36,896 · £4 and less than £12.
52,263 (3) over £1, and not exceeding £4 .
41,556 (4) £l and under . . . .
12,026 Total : 142,741
The population respectively in the Provinces and Counties, in 1881, was 4,263,814, and in the Boroughs, 911,022.
It is proposed to fix a rate for unit of £1 direct taxes paid. This leaves a margin. In time, as Ireland prospers and taxes become more direct, the masses will claim perhaps £1. 58. to be the value of a vote, which will lessen property-voting power. Later on they may claim L1. 10s. as the anit in value, which will still more lessen the number of the votes representing the contributions to national expenditure, and so on. For these reasons it is doubtful whether 10s. would not he nearer the true present unit of value than £1. Then, again, no fractions of payments can obtain fractions of votes. Consequently much voting-power value must necessarily be lost and wasted.
Experience only can prove the correctness of these views, but care should be taken at the outset, before that necessary experience can be forthcoming, to so assess the unit of value as to allow a certain amount of expansion in the value of the unit to meet requirements by-and-by. Once assess it too high, it cannot well be lowered, for the reasons already advanced.
IMPERIAL AND LOCAL TAXES, POPULATION, VALUATION,
AND EXPENDITURE DURING CERTAIN YEARS.
STRENGTH OF POLITICAL PARTIES, ELECTORS, POPULATION,
AND MALES IN YEARS 1880 AND 1885.
Increase in numbers of Electors by latest suffrage (Counties) 460,951
FOUR PROVINCES IN IRELAND.
* This gives the total numbers of males of 21 years and over who are not at present on the register. Practically, however, the additional number of electors, if universal suffrage was given would not amount to more than about 300,000. (See page 20.)