withdrawn from circulation and shipped to Castile (Hist. Verdadera, cap. 157); but his statement is not borne out by the evidence of the treasurers' records.

From 1531 onwards, then, there were only two kinds of pesos legally current in Mexico, that worth 450 maravedis, and that worth 272. The latter either by chance or by policy equalled exactly in value the "pieces of eight " which were coined in Mexico City after 1537, and which soon became the standard money of the country. The former remained an imaginary unit employed for another 150 years in transactions dealing with the bullion at the mines.

The earliest treasury records of New Granada mention three forms of gold" oro fino," "oro bueno," and "oro bajo " (or "chafalonia "). There was no Casa de Moneda in the colony in these early years, and consequently no coinage of silver pesos. In 1559 and 1560 the audiencia complained of this state of affairs, and urged the establishment of a mint for the issue of silver and vellon (A. de I., 116, 5, 6, lib. ii, fol. 3). In 1563 the lic. Angelo de Castejou wrote that in Pamplona gold-dust was still the current medium of exchange. From the treasurers' accounts, moreover, it is clear that the amount of silver produced by the country was almost negligible. Gold must therefore have been almost the sole medium in use, and the likeliest unit of value was the peso of 450 maravedis, the one common in all parts of Spanish America before the minting of silver. And as in the later accounts, from 1547, when the colony was more settled, the receipts are almost universally reckoned in "pesos de buen oro," I have identified this particular form with the peso de minas of Mexico and Hispaniola.

"Oro fino ❞ appears of less and less importance in the years succeeding the foundation of the "realm." It seems reasonable to suppose that this might represent treasure obtained by the Spaniards in the form of gold-dust. In the beginning gold-dust would be the handiest circulating medium; and at first it would probably be computed at its own weight and value rather than as interpreted in pesos de minas. As it would have a very high degree of fineness, it might easily be current at the value given the gold peso or castellano in Spain, 490 maravedis (the peso de oro 24 carats fine was worth 495.26 maravedis). Such, at least, is the value I have assumed for it.

The peso de minas was also carried by the conquistadores to the -Pacific coasts of South America; and continued to be the general unit of value till the establishment of mints in Peru brought about a repetition of the situation in Mexico.

One more type of peso in Spanish America needs to be mentioned. Francisco de Toledo, viceroy of Peru (1569-81), issued an order that when the quinto and tribute of the Indians was paid in silver or reals, the peso was to be reckoned at 12} reals (425 maravedis). This was later called the "peso ensayado de tributos." Philip II, by a cedula of June 29, 1592, extended the order to all the Indies. (Recop., lib. viii, tit. 8, ley 8.)




[ocr errors]

1. Developments to 1910. Commission of 1908, 481.- Partial adoption of its recommendations, 482. - II. Tax rate limitation, 488. — Origin, 488. — Provisions, 489. — Influence on expenditures, 492. - Influence on return of property, especially intangible, 494. — Future of the policy, 501. - III. Centralized assessment. Tax commission's proposals, 503. — The Warnes law; appointive assessors, 508. — Effect on property valuations, 511. Further effects, 514. IV. Conclusion, 516. Method of selecting assessors, 517. - Amendment of the constitution, 518. — Administrative methods; taxation at source, 519.


[ocr errors]

THE Ohio constitution of 1851, substantially following the Kelley tax law of 1846,1 fastened the general property upon the state by its provision that

"Laws shall be passed, taxing by a uniform rule, all moneys, credits, investments in bonds, stocks, joint stock companies, or otherwise; and also all real and personal property, according to its true value in money.


An act of 1852 brought the tax laws more fully into accord with the new constitution, and acts of 1859 and 1878 codified the various scattered provisions of the statutes relating to taxation. Aside from the development of the tax on foreign insurance companies, of the franchise tax on the capital stock of corporations, of the excise taxes upon public service corporations, and

1 44 Ohio Laws, 85; amended by 45 Ohio Laws, 60.

Article XII, Section 2, Constitution of Ohio.

50 Ohio Laws, 135.

75 Ohio Laws, 436-507.

56 Ohio Laws, 175-218.


of the " unit rule" in the assessment of the property of express, telegraph and telephone companies 1 there was little important tax legislation during the next halfcentury.

The beginning of the recent tax reform movement in Ohio may fairly be dated from the report of the Honorary Commission of 1908, which directly attacked the general property tax, as well as the administrative system which had resulted from a half-century's piecemeal legislation. The recommendations of the commission were: (1) a constitutional amendment abolishing the general property tax; (2) a state tax board to administer all laws for the collection of state revenues and to make recommendations; (3) more frequent appraisement of real estate; (4) the separation of state and local revenues; and (5) publicity in local taxation.2

The recommendations which related to administrative features of the tax system were, on the whole, cordially received. An act of March 12, 1909,3 as amended in 1910, provided that appraisals of real estate for purposes of taxation should be quadrennial, instead of decennial as theretofore. The unsatisfactory character of these infrequent appraisements is made clear by an examination of assessed valuations between 1871 and 1910. During this period the valuation of land and improvements increased $631,325,597. Between the decennial appraisals, assessors of personalty were required to make additions for new buildings and deductions for destroyed buildings: the net additions to the real estate duplicate on this account amounted in

1 For a convenient account of these taxes, see E. L. Bogart, Financial History of Ohio (vol. i of the University of Illinois Studies in the Social Sciences), pp. 323-329, 336-345. This and later legislation is also described by Professor Bogart in the American Economic Review, vol. i, pp. 505-518. Possibly the liquor tax should be included in the list of important tax legislation.

[blocks in formation]

this period to $610,135,064.1 That is to say, in forty years the increment of land value in the entire state, as shown by tax assessments, amounted only to $21,190,533! In contrast with this, the equalized value of real estate in 1911, the year of the first quadrennial appraisement, was $1,661,000,000, or 154 per cent larger than the valuation of 1910. The state has now, by the act of May 6, 1913,' accepted annual appraisements of real estate.


The recommendation for a permanent tax commission was adopted by the act of May 10, 1910, amended May 31, 1911.1 That body was charged with the administration of the franchise and excise taxes upon corporations, with the assessment of the property of public utilities (formerly assessed by various ex-officio boards), and with the equalization of bank shares and of real estate valuations. In marked contrast with the character of previous state boards of equalization, the commission was constituted a true board of assessment, and not merely a board of equalization, through the injunction to see to it that all property is assessed for taxation at its true value in money. The commission was also given general supervisory power over the assessment of property, with authority to order a reappraisement of the real or personal property in a taxing district, to appoint appraisers for such reappraisements, to reconvene boards of review and equalization, and to raise or lower the assessed valuation of any real or personal property. The law, however, still vested in the auditor of state considerable authority over local assessing officers, mainly incident to his

1 Report of the Tax Commission of Ohio, 1911, p. 25. 103 Ohio Laws, 786.

102 Ohio Laws, 224.

101 Ohio Laws, 399.

"The term was now much extended as compared with its former definition.

authority to prescribe the form of the tax statement.1 The act of 19132 makes the tax commission unequivocally the head of the assessment machinery of the state.

The act providing for quadrennial appraisement required the publication of pamphlet lists of real estate valuations, giving lot and street numbers or other description, and feet frontage or acreage. The act of 1913 requires a quinquennial list, and a list of changes in valuations in intermediate years. The quinquennial lists are required to show separately the valuation of improvements, minerals and mineral rights."

Other recommendations of the commission have not fared so well at the hands of legislature and people. Complete separation of the sources of state and local revenue has not been achieved, altho there has been but a small state levy since 1902, — not, indeed, for general state purposes, but for common schools, universities and sinking fund. The legislature has taken no action on this recommendation, except as state revenue from special sources has been augmented by increases in the rates of the excise and franchise taxes. The tax commission proposed in 1911 that the county should be made the unit for school purposes, thus dispensing with the state common school levy, and that the sinking and university funds be made a charge on the general revenues, together with any state aid required for common schools in the poorer districts. In case the general revenue fund should prove inadequate for these additional demands upon it, the commission proposed to

1 Section 5366, General Code of 1910.

103 Ohio Laws, 786.

100 Ohio Laws, 81, amended by 101 Ohio Laws, 7.

103 Ohio Laws, 786, Sections 22 and 23.

The sinking fund levy provides the interest on the so-called “irreducible debt of the state, which consists of funds derived from the sale of school and university lands and from special endowments, and received by the state as a perpetual 6 per cent loan. Practically all the interest on this debt is used for educational purposes.

« ForrigeFortsett »