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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

Land And Income Tax Department

Land And Income Tax Department.

This department had its origin in 1878 when Mr. Ballance was the Colonial Treasurer in the Grey Administration. It proved very unpopular, and there were a large number of defaulters against whom proceedings were taken. In the following year Major (Sir Harry) Atkinson repealed it and introduced in its place the Property-Tax Bill. He argued that the condition of the Colony having necessitated extra taxation a large portion should fall on property. The chief question to settle was what description of property should bear the burden, and whether the taxation should fall on capital or income. He argued that a property tax on the whole of a man's possessions would be less inquisitorial than one on income and more easily assessed and levied. These views were adopted after much opposition, and a duty of one penny in the pound was thereupon levied on all property with an expenditure of £500. The opponents of the system never ceased their efforts to substitute a land and income tax for it, but were unsuccessful until the session of 1891 when Mr. Ballance carried the graduated Land and Income Tax which remained in force up till 1893 when an Amendment Act was passed. The revenue collected in that year amounted to £370,079. Revaluations of properties are expected to reduce this income by about £20,000. The tax is collected in two half-yearly instalments and for the sake of convenience to country residents it may be paid to any postmaster. The Land Tax is framed with a view of placing the burdens on those most capable of bearing them and by comparison with the Property tax the number of taxpayers decreased from 8611, while those under the Land Tax were 4760. Each landholder is entitled to a deduction in the assessment of his land to the value of all the improvements on his property up to £3000; a landholder may also deduct from the value of his land the amount of money owing by him which is secured by a duly registered mortgage. By allowing the land owner this privilege, the mortgage is assessed for the amount and the whole value of the land (subject to the deductions and exemptions allowed by the law) is assessed for Land Tax. The same principle applies to land and mortgages held by companies, except in the cases of mortgages held by banks, their profits from such sources being assessed under the Income Tax. In addition to the ordinary Land Tax, the graduated tax is levied; this tax does not operate on owners the value of whose land, less the improvements thereon, does not exceed £5000. The graduated tax then takes effect at 1/8 of a penny in the pound, rising by eighths until it reaches a maximum of twopence on estates worth £210,000 or over. The income from the Land Tax is, in round numbers £230,000, and from the graduated tax £70,000.

The provisions of the Income Tax exempt many page 132 incomes which are reached by the operation of the Land Tax, as in the instances of incomes arising from rents and mortgages, shareholders in companies are also free, as the companies pay on their incomes. An exemption of £300 is also allowed each person, and this sum is deducted from all taxable incomes; above that sum incomes are taxable at the rate of 6d. in the pound on the first £1000 and 1s. in the pound after that. Thus the tax on an income of £1900 would pay as follows:—The £300 exemption would be deducted, leaving £1000 paying 6d., equal to £25, and £600 paying 1s., equal to £30—total tax £55. There is a proviso regarding any bank doing business in the Colony that its income shall not be deemed to be less than £10,000. Concessions are also made exempting officers drawing pensions from the Imperial Government from the tax. The revenue derived under the head of Land Tax is about £70,000 per annum.

The Land and Income Tax is administered by the Commissioner of Taxes, Mr. J. McGowan (q.v.) who is not, in the exercise of his statutory duties, subject to the ministerial head of the department. The assessments for Income Tax, and all matters connected with it are entirely confidential, but the land assessment is necessarily public, and in the administration of the department the two branches are kept distinct as far as is possible. The number of officers employed in the department is twenty-one whose aggregate salaries are £4970. There are considerable expenses for extra clerical assistance, expenses of revision of assessments and other expenses incurring an outlay of about £5479. Triennial valuations were made up till 1891, in which year the cost was £33,000; this cost has now been saved by a system under which values are readjusted when necessary, and local bodies prepare their own rolls instead of having them supplied by the Commissioner, as was the case when the Act first came into operation. The last general assessment of the Colony showed a land value of £57,441,115 in the North and £64,783,914 in the South Island, or a total of £122,225,029 for the Colony; the wealthiest County being Selwyn with a value of £7,021,548, and the wealthiest borough Wellington valued at £5,865,778.

Mr. John McGowan, Commissioner of Taxes, and Member of the Public Trust, Government Insurance, Land Purchase, Advances to Settlers, Post and Telegraph Appeal, and other Boards was born in 1849, in the Orkney Islands, and is a son of the late Rev. William Stewart McGowan, who was for forty-two years a minister in connection with the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and laboured for thirty years in Orkney, and for twelve in New Zealand, passing away at the ripe old age of seventy-one. The gentleman under notice arrived in the Colony in 1865, per ship “James Lister,” and after about two years in the bush in the neighbourhood of Wainui-o-mata, entered the Government service. His education had been gained at a variety of places, including the Wigtown and Aberdeen Grammar Schools. A fairly full account of Mr. McGowan's career appears in the Katipo of April the 1st, 1895, written and inserted on the occasion of his being elected to the honourable position of Chairman of the Post and Telegraph Appeal Board. From this article, which is carefully written, it is evident that Mr. McGowan has risen to the high offices he holds by sterling merit in the equally important directions of character and ability. Some twelve years ago, Mr. McGowan was expecting to leave the Colony, and though circumstances transpired which kept him here, his intended removal called forth several expressions of opinion from his then superiors in Mr. John McGowan office. These opinions, coming from such well known authorities as the late Sir Harry Atkinson, the late Sir William Fitzherbert, Mr. Batkin, for many years Secretary to the Treasury, and afterwards Assistant Controller and Auditor-General, and Mr. J. C. Gavin, the present Assistant Controller and Auditor-General, are of great value; and they are uniformly expressive of the highest encomiums. Entering the service in 1867, Mr. McGowan's “exceptional ability and untiring industry carried him, in the course of six years, into the position of first clerk in the Paymaster General's branch of the Treasury.” His services were secured for the Property Tax Department at its initiation, in 1880. He was selected by Sir Harry Atkinson for the chief clerkship, and ten years later, when Mr. Sperry died, and Mr. Crombie was raised to the Commissionership, Mr. McGowan was appointed Deputy Commissioner. In June, 1894, Mr. Crombie followed his late chief, and Mr. McGowan became Commissioner of Taxes, the appointment being made by the present page 133 Colonial Treasurer, Hon. J. G. Ward, and approved generally by the whole country. The Commissioner is still in the prime of life, and in the enjoyment of health and vigor, and it is to be hoped that he will long be spared to occupy his present position of trust and responsibility. In 1874 Mr. McGowan married Hester, third daughter of the Rev. Robert Ward, of Wellington.

Mr. George Frederick Collin Campbell, the Deputy-Commissioner of Taxes, is a son of the late Alexander le Grand Campbell, an old colonist, who came out from Perthshire in the year 1842, and settled in the district of Nelson. The Deputy-Commissioner was born in the Nelson district, and was educated at the Nelson College. He entered the Service in 1874, as a clerk in the Public Works Department, and was subsequently transferred to the Justice Department, and in 1879 became a clerk in the Tax Department soon after its inauguration. On the death of Mr. Sperry in 1890, who was then Commissioner of Taxes, Mr. Campbell became Chief Clerk, and when Mr. Crombie, who succeeded Mr. Sperry, followed his chief into the “Silent Land,” the Chief Clerk was promoted to the post of Deputy-Commissioner. Mr. Campbell has thus served the Colony for twenty-one years, during which time he has had varied experience in several departments of the Civil Service, rising step by step until he has reached his present position. For many years Mr. Campbell was well known as an athlete, and took a prominent part in yachting, rowing, and football contests. He still continues to take an interest in athletics, and is at present one of the vice-presidents of the New Zealand Rugby Union, and a member of the New Zealand Rowing Association. As a member of the Star Boating Club, he took part in a great many races as number three; and as an amateur yachtsman he has been connected with various yachts in Port Nicholson. Mr. Campbell joined the volunteers about the time when the defence works were started as a junior lieutenant in the Naval Artillery, and on the retirement of Captain Duncan, he was promoted to the position of captain of the company, which position he still holds.

Mr. Francis John Morton Dugdale Walmsley, Chief Clerk Land and Income Tax Department, is the eldest son of the late Benjamin Walmsley, formerly a captain in H.M. 56th Regiment, and for many years Chief Postmaster and Sheriff of Nelson. The family—an old Lancashire one—arrived in Nelson from the Mother Country by the ship “Larkins” at the end of 1849. The subject of this sketch was born in Drogheda, Ireland, in 1843, and has had a long official experience in bank and Government employ, having entered the postal service at Nelson in 1859, and being transferred to the Post-office, Dunedin, in 1861, at the commencement of the rush to the Otago goldfields. He left the Postal Service the same year, and joined the Bank of New Zealand, which had just opened their branch in Dunedin. For nearly two years he was in the Bank's service on the early goldfields, and in 1862 was transferred to Mr. Francis John Morton Dugdale Walmsley the Nelson branch, where, in 1864, he was appointed accountant. On the discovery of the West Coast goldfields he was, at the end of 1864, sent to report as to its prospects as an alluvial field. The outlook being excellent, Mr. Walmsley was instructed to open a branch at Hokitika. The materials for a building were shipped from Nelson, and in December, 1864, the first bank was opened under his charge. In February, 1865, Mr. Walmsley was robbed at the Waimea diggings of upwards of £1000 in gold dust and notes, the property of the Bank, the treasure having been taken from a store, where it had been left for safety. For this loss he was suspended, but after an enquiry had been held into the circumstances, he was reinstated. He resigned from the Bank of New Zealand employ in May, 1865, and entered the service of the Bank of New South Wales in June of the same page 134 year, receiving the appointment of travelling officer for the West Coast. In September, 1865, he was “stuck up” between Notown and the Twelve-Mile by five armed men and robbed of over £4000 in gold dust and notes. The Bank offered a reward of £600 and the Crown a free pardon to an accomplice, but nothing was ever heard of the bushrangers. Mr. Walmsley opened most of the agencies for the Bank on the West Coast, and was in November, 1872, transferred to their Auckland branch as accountant. In March, 1874, he resigned from the Bank of New South Wales, and entered the service of the National Bank of New Zealand as manager at the Thames branch, which he opened. He left the National Bank service in 1875, and for several years was farming near the now celebrated Waihi goldmine at Ohinemuri. In 1879 Mr. Walmsley entered the Government service in the Land Tax Office at Napier, and next year was transferred to the Christchurch office as chief clerk. Upon the closing of the district offices and the centralisation of the work at Wellington, he was transferred to the head office, where, in 1894, he became chief clerk. For the last ten years Mr. Walmsley has been a staunch believer in Henry George's principles of land taxation, and is confident that in the comparatively near future these principles will, in English-speaking countries, be the great political question of the day.

Mr. Peter Heyes, Expert Commercial Accountant to the Land and Income Tax Department, has had a large professional experience. Born on the 18th of July, 1856 at St. Helens, Lancashire, he commenced his mercantile career with the notable firm of Messrs. Pilkington Bros., glass manufacturers and colliery proprietors of St. Helens, in the stained glass and ornamental window department, which is a huge concern. After about three years he became shipping clerk to the Widnes Alkali Company, Limited, about twenty miles from Liverpool up the river Mersey, opposite to Runcorn in Cheshire; here he served about three-and-a-half years. He was then appointed by Messrs. Wigg Bros. and Steele of Runcorn, Cheshire, to the charge of Hargreave's patent direct process for the manufacture of sulphate of soda, where he remained about a year-and-a-half. After this Mr. Heyes took charge of the same process at the chemical works of Messrs. Boyd, Son and Co., Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin, together with the management of the office and correspondence for the firm. He soon rose to the position of general manager, and continued over seven years in the same concern. Coming out to Auckland in 1882 per ship “Glenlora,” Mr. Heyes first obtained the appointment as accountant to Mr. John Leck, draper, Auckland. Subsequently he went to Gisborne as accountant to Messrs. Parnell and Boylan, merchants, and afterwards became supervisor in the realization of the estate for the trustees. In 1887 the subject of this notice was appointed accountant in the Auckland office of Messrs. Sargood, Son and Ewen, and after holding the position for about two years he left to take the supervision of the estate of Messrs. E. and A. Isaac, importers and wholesale merchants, Auckland, for the bank; subsequently in bankruptcy he realized the estate for the official assignee. For the next five years Mr. Heyes was in the service of the Kauri Timber Company, Limited, in Auckland, first as accountant, and afterwards as local secretary and assistant general manager. This company, with its great kauri forests and vast operations, afforded opportunities for the display of special qualifications as an accountant. With twenty branches and numerous departments, including mining, shipping, and store business, innumerable accounts and voluminous statistics were needed to keep the whole under review for the efficient management of so large a concern. In the presentation of the periodical financial statements, setting forth in a lucid manner the details of the revenue, expenditure, and properties, Mr. Heyes' services were evidently highly appreciated, this being unreservedly attested Mr. Peter Heyes by the encomiums of all concerned in the administration of the company. Leaving in December, 1893, he joined the Land and Income Tax Department as expert commercial accountant. Mr. Heyes was married in 1879 to Miss F. A. E. Moore, daughter of Joseph William Moore, Esq., St. Albans, Blackrock, Dublin.

Other Officers.

Clerks—G. Maxwell, H. Nancarrow, A. J. McGowan, J. P. Dugdale, J. M. King, D. R. Purdie, A. F. Oswin, G. W. Jänisch, J. Stevenson, C. V. Kreeft, J. W. Black, H. H. Seed, D. G. Clark, T. Oswin, J. R. Smyth, H. L. Wiggins.

Cadets—W. J. Organ, R. Hepworth, J. J. Hunt, C. de R. Andrews, M. J. Crombie, Jas. Ferguson.