Progressivity in America: 1798

November 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

In 1798, the Fifth Congress enacted a progressive wealth tax. Then, for instance, a house worth $300 bore tax of 60 cents; a house worth $30,000 bore tax of $300 — that’s 500 times more tax on property worth 100 times more. Direct Tax Act, 1 Stat. 597, 599, http://constitution.org/uslaw/sal/001_statutes_at_large.pdf (a huge file also linked here).

But that experiment that didn’t last, maybe in part because it involved a cumbersome direct tax that had to be apportioned among states according to population. North Carolina, for instance, had to pay $193,697.96 – “and five mills.” Tennessee had to pay only $18,806.38 – “and three mills.”  There  was also a tax on slaves – 50 cents each. Folks in the North thought they were paying too much, and started Fries’ Rebellion.

If the tax brought in too much to bring in a state’s apportioned share, rates on houses were to be reduced. If too little, undeveloped land was to be taxed.

Here’s an excerpt:

Upon every dwelling-house which, with the out-houses appurtenant

thereto, and the lot whereon the same are erected, not exceeding two

acres in any case, shall be valued in manner aforesaid, at more than one

hundred, and not more than five hundred dollars, there shall be assessed

in the manner herein provided, a sum equal to two tenths of one per

centum on the amount of the valuation : upon every dwelling-house

which shall be valued as aforesaid, at more than five hundred, and not

more than one thousand dollars, there shall be assessed a sum equal to

three tenths of one per centum on the amount of the valuation : upon

every dwelling-house which shall be valued as aforesaid, at more than

one thousand dollars, and not more than three thousand dollars, there

shall be assessed a sum equal to four tenths of one per centum on the

amount of the valuation : upon every dwelling-house which shall be

valued as aforesaid, at more than three thousand, and not more than six

thousand dollars, there shall be assessed a sum equal to one half of one

per centum on the amount of the valuation : upon every dwelling-house

which shall be valued as aforesaid, at more than six, and not more than

ten thousand dollars, there shall be assessed a sum equal to six tenths of

one per centum on the amount of the valuation : upon every dwelling.

house which shall be valued as aforesaid, at more than ten, and not more

than fifteen thousand dollars, there shall be assessed a sum equal to seven

tenths of one per centum on the amount of the valuation ; upon every

dwelling-house which shall be valued as aforesaid, at more than fifteen,

and not more than twenty-thousand dollars, there shall be assessed a sum

equal to eight tenths of one per centum on the amount of the valuation :

upon every dwelling-house which shall be valued as aforesaid, at more

than twenty, and not more than thirty thousand dollars, there shall be

assessed a sum equal to nine tenths of one per centum on the amount of

the valuation ; and upon every dwelling-house which shall be valued as

aforesaid, at more than thirty thousand dollars, there shall be assessed a

sum equal to one per centum on the amount of the valuation.

About these ads

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Progressivity in America: 1798 at Newrevenue.org.

meta

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.