Debate of Mar. 21, 1894.Question: "Resolved, That the income tax clause of the Wilson bill should become law."
Brief for the Affirmative.J. R. Nichols and J. T. Kilbreth, Jr.
Best general references: Bastable's Public Finance Book IV, chap. IV, Sherman's Speech in the Senate, Jan. 25, 1871, Ely's Taxation in American Cities, chap. VII.
I. (1) The government needs increased revenue on account of continuing deficit. (2) The country has shown itself averse to increase of customs duties by the elections of 1890 and 1892. (3) Excise duties are as high as possible at present.
II (1) Income taxes are most equitable as they call for greatest sacrifice from those best able to bear it. (2) They are not taxes on industry or consumption. (3) They are easily and cheaply collected. (4) They are no more inquisitorial than the local taxes on property everywhere in use.
III. (1) Income taxes are successful abroad and are a permanent part of the tax system. (2) They are of necessity general, not local. (3) The provisions of the Wilson bill are just and easy of application; (a) no incomes under $4000 taxed; (b) stoppages at source.
Brief for the Negative.C. M. Reade and H. C. Lakin.
Best general references: D. A. Wells in Forum, March, 1894. F. C. Howe in the Annals of the American Academy of Political Science, January, 1894.
I. The history of the income tax is a warning against its present adoption by the U. S. (a) Prussia's income tax is inapplicable in U. S. (b) England's conditions are unlike those in U. S. (c) Witness the experience of U. S. during the war. (d) Tax laws of Boston and Massachusetts are instructive.
II. An income tax in U. S. would be inexpedient. (a) Its unpopularity would interfere with its efficiency. (b) It discriminates against the well-to-do; against personal ability; against temporary incomes. (c) It is inquisitorial. (d) In general it is inconsistent with a democratic form of government.
III. An income tax is impracticable for the U. S. (a) The territory is too extended, the economic conditions are too diverse. (b) Business and incomes are too unstable. (c) The tax is difficult to collect. (d) The tax offers every inducement to fraud. (e) The federal tax would conflict with state and municipal taxes. (f) The bill as it stands has serious incongruities.
IV. The needed income can expediently be raised by an additional tax on liquors and tobacco. (a) These articles are less taxed in the U. S. than elsewhere.
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