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whose mathematical treatment of the problem of Distribution appeared some five or six years since. Taxation should properly fall on rents say both (including “ forced gains” in Mr. Hobson's case). But Mr. Hobson himself shows how, in attempts to effect this, results which are not merely a pocketing of a part of these rents by the State may be produced. He freely admits the difficulty of assessing the amount of much of the gain which he regards as the legitimate object of taxation, and the problem of practical statemanship in regard to taxation does not seem much advanced.
A. W. Flux
The Effect of the Recent Changes in Monetary Standards upon
the Distribution of Wealth. (American Economic Association. Economic Studies.) By FRANCIS S. KINDER. (New
York: Macmillan Co.) 1899. Pp. 499.
This is an outcome of the bimetallic controversy, though it is very different from the mass of the literature thus produced. It is an honest and painstaking attempt to determine how the changes in the value of standard do affect the various classes of the community
In Part I. the arguments brought forward by writers like Mr. D. A. Wells, who have endeavoured to show that the fall in prices since 1870 is almost entirely due either to the increase in production, or to the increase in the facilities for transportation, are dealt with. Mr. Kinder's contention is that, if these two sets of facts are in truth correlated in the way represented, we ought to find that the change from rising to falling prises, which occurred about 1870, was coincident with a great increase in the rate of production; whereas, as he clearly proves by means of numerous tables, the rate of the increase in the production of many of the most important commodities was as great or greater before that date. Neither was there any great change in the rate of the increase of the facilities for transport when prices began to fall. The author, therefore, comes to the conclusion that the change in prices must have been mainly due to changes in the monetary standards of the world.
In Part II, the effect of changes in prices on distribution is discussed. As regards income, the author points out that rising prices are injurious to the creditor, and that high rates of interest are injurious to the debtor; but that these two conditions, as a general rule, occur simultaneously. No doubt the influences thus produced are in a sense antagonistic; but to say that a tendency “to afford the lender the same real income" under rising and falling prices is thus produced is an example of the loose statements somewhat too common in this volume. The author goes on to prove by means of statistics (quoting Professor Irving Fisher and others) that the rate of real interest, taking changes in the real value of the principal into account, is lower under rising than under falling prices, and that the debtor is therefore injured by an appreciation of the standard.
Tie inttuience si gree cramena De V SS zi sie working classes a 11ci sert I t secarave chapter. The car acm.nences by po s t 2 1 asce Ece Sezer ng sinas de locurer wl not be in, mert sa reverzje prices, -at she afect of such , rse, I som morear aques, is o nersade de iemant icr raw materii und maet sery, 121.30 cae lensand .cr sie ermcccies ci comnce consumpsich und bele abected ni lasect wiy." The prce of the necessares st .aco rise before cere si rise in muzes, because that PBA srce ander by an increase iemand, aci 233 increased der and must erme in ce mais by ani care an increased purchasing power in the hands of ice masses." Thec ichows a consideranle amount of care eclectei suauisutai zicemacion, wine sends to confirm this trecretical coccission tcat real wages rise as fast or faster during long perods of rising prices than daring locg periods of fa 1.609 prices. In such a discussion as icis, Espaiabie points arise at every turn. For example, the author hardly appears to pereeive that it is d.o.cat to ascerzin what are the efeets of a rapid rise in prices if only the charges taking place during locg periods are studied; for prices do not rise raply the whole time. Then again, we ought to look to the supply as weil as to the denand in considering the causes of risir.g prices during periods of inflation. For example, freights are certain to rise at such times, and imported wheat will be placed on the English market at a higher price, even though the effect of such a pitting up of the price is to diminish imports. An increased demand for machinary and raw material is not inconsistent with a slight decrease in the supply of the “necessaries" of life, a decrease quite sufficient to "explain” the rise in price. It is true that such a check in supply would probably not last long. On the whole, these tables do tend to confirm the view that a slow and steady rise in prices from toonetary causes is not injurious to the working classes. From these theoretical arguments, in conjunction with the facts, other interesting conclusions might perhaps be drawn. It appears that the poorer the class of wage earner, the more their needs are confined to articles of ordinary consumption (which are less likely than luxuries to rise in price during periods of inflation), and the more their well-being is dependent on the regularity of employment rather than on the rate of wages; and, if this is so, it follows that the lower we go down in the social scale, the less likely is it that the labourer will be injuriously affected by a rise in prices from monetary causes.
Many classes undoubtedly do suffer from rising prices. Their case is but very lightly touched on in this work; and the effect is to make the whole statement of the case seem somewhat unbalanced. This is intensified by the fact that there is no summary of general conclusions, and one closes the volume with a rather unsatisfied appetite.
The English Income Tax; with special reference to Administration
and Methods of Assessment. By JOSEPH A. HILL, Ph.D. (New York: for the American Economic Association, The Macmillan Company; London : Swan, Sonnenschein & Co.
1899. Pp. 155. 1$.)
This work is the outcome of a visit to England in 1897, when Dr. Hill, at the suggestion of the Massachusetts Commission on Taxation, undertook an investigation of the practical workings of the English Income Tax on the spot. The report then written and presented, but not published, has been expanded by the inclusion of the results of a subsequent study of the literature of the subject; but the monograph is still mainly devoted to the branches of the subject referred to in the sub-title. There has been no attempt to write an exhaustive treatise, several important spheres of inquiry and discussion in relation to the ethical and legal bases of the tax being purposely left untouched. Such matters as the taxation of foreigners, the equal assessment of the income from property and the earnings of industry and skill, and the suggestions for the full adoption of the principle of progression, are passed by as outside the scope and limits prescribed for himself by the author. As already indicated, it is the practice rather than the theory of the income tax with which he has chiefly concerned himself, and within these limits his success is undeniable.
Dr. Hill has divided up his matter into seven chapters headed respectively (1) Introduction; (2) the general character of the assessment; (3) the machinery of assessment; (4) the process of assessment; (5) exemptions and abatements; (6) the general character of the tax service; and (7) the growth and completeness of the assessment. The key-notes of the work are sounded in the introductory chapter, which concludes with the observation that “the success of the tax in surviving the test of experience is in no small degree due to the method by which it is assessed, and the manner in which the assessment is carred out through the agency of competent officials." The method here referred to and described in chapters 2 and 5, is that of the taxation of the income at its sources, the advantages of which, in respect of productivity and avoidance of a general disclosure of income, secure the admiration of Dr. Hill as they have previously secured that of other American economists. But the avoidance of a full disclosure, formerly one of the best features of the system, has ceased to be a strong point in it. Owing to the extension of the abatement limit to £700, probably five-sixths of the persons assessed are under the necessity of making a full statement of income in order to obtain the relief to which they are entitled; whilst large numbers of persons who are not liable to the tax at all are placed under the like disability by the stoppage of the tax from their income from investments. Dr. Hill's observations on this topic (see chapter 5) appear to us to be both just and weighty.
hs of the per income in Obers of persolicability by rules
Chapter 4 contains a description of the processes of assessment, which, considering the intricacy and complexity of the subject, is surprisingly clear and complete. The writer of it was fortunate enough to secure the guidance of competent officials in threading the mazes of the system; but he has obviously brought a highly-trained intelligence to bear, and has turned his opportunities to excellent account.
Perhaps the most interesting portion of the work is the exposition of the inner workings of the administration of the tax contained in chapters 3 and 6. We learn that the historic and universal fear of the rapacity of the tax officers of the central government induced the British Parliament to place almost all the legal authority and power in the hands of local commissioners and their officers. But the increasing magnitude of the business, and still more its extreme complexity and delicacy, have caused it to completely outgrow the means of administration provided, and the direction and management have, from sheer force of necessity, gradually passed into the hands of the surveyors of taxes and their clerical staffs. With a truly British disregrad of the necessity of adjusting the legal framework to the facts of daily practice, Parliament still neglects or declines to remedy this anomalous state of things, finding their justification in the fact that the resulting example of government by compromise is much more satisfactory than could be expected. All this is clearly brought out by Dr. Hill, who has been the first to lift the veil of official reserve which has hitherto been kept somewhat closely drawn over this subject.
As this work is likely to become a book of reference, and as its merits are such as to lead us to anticipate the need for a second edition at no very distant date, it may be worth while to draw atten. tion to a few passages in which some slight emendation appears to be required. On p. 262, the statements contained in the fifth paragraph need modification, the land and buildings used for industrial and business purposes being usually assessed under Schedule A, and not under Schedule D. The exceptions are, however, of sufficient importance to render their enumeration desirable in the next edition. The paragraph which follows describes Schedule C too briefly, and needs amplification. On pp. 276 and 277, it is stated that the general commissioners are appointed by the Land Tax Commissioners from their own number. This is very largely the case, but their range of choice is not limited to their own body, and as a matter of fact other appointments are often made. The remuneration of assessors is not usually graded according to the amount of work to be done, as stated on p. 279; it is based on the poundage payable at the time the change to salaries took effect some ten years ago. In relation to the assessment of property (p. 287, &c.), it should be stated that the process of assessment is only repeated at intervals of five years, and that the returns of rent then called for are used for charging the Inhabited House Duty as well as the Income Tax. In the Metropolis they also
form the basis of charge for all the local rates and the domestic water rental; and as all these charges fall upon the occupier he is not quite so disinterested a party as is suggested on p. 288. With regard to appeals, the statement on page 328 that the general commissioners never issue precepts for detailed accounts and information is somewhat too absolute. The notices of assessment issued by the clerks to the commissioners usually contain an instruction to intending appellants which is in the nature of a general precept; and in some important districts special precepts are issued to particular appellants at the request of the surveyors when considered necessary, or by the Surveyors on behalf of the commissioners. It is moreover quite unusual, for the commissioners to make any sort of reference to their power of requiring the verification of appellants' statements and accounts on oath. The bar to the employment of solicitors in Income Tax appeals, referred to on page 330, has recently been removed. The commissioners “may” permit lawyers to appear for clients, and usually do so when requested. But such requests are not yet very numerous. Finally, it may be worth while to point out that the pensions of the surveyors of taxes are not fixed at one half of the salary annually received in the two years immediately preceding their retirement (p. 356). In common with those of other civil servants, their pensions bear a variable proportion to the salary according to the length of service of the pensioner; rising, according to a statutory scale, to a maximum of two-thirds.
The discovery of a few mistakes in matters of detail scarcely at all diminishes our admiration of the book as a whole. Such slips are inevitable when so intricate and technical a subject is approached from the outside. They do not affect the value of any of the author's generalisations, which appear to display his possession of a penetrating mind and a well-balanced judgment. We find ourselves in almost complete agreement with his conclusions, and, not less for English than for American readers, consider the work a highly illuminating one within the regions traversed.
G. H. BLUNDEN
The Theory of International Trade, with some of its Applications
to Economic Policy. By C. F. BASTABLE. Third edition,
revised. (London : Macmillan and Co. 1900.) La Théorie du Commerce International. Par C. F. BASTABLE,
Traduit sur la 2de edition Anglaise, revue par l'auteur et précedé d'une introduction par SAUVAIRE-JOURDAN. (Paris : Giard et Brière. 1900.)
In the successive editions of this work Professor Bastable not only maintains his reputation as author of the best text book on the subject, but also obtains new distinction by displaying in his replies to criticisms a candour and courtesy which are rare in economic literature. In the