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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 14

53.—Also Illegally Assessed

53.—Also Illegally Assessed.

Moreover, the words, as above observed, were, "of the full yearly value at the time of assessing thereof." Now I apprehend that these words may be considered as having some application to all the years in which this tax was levied, at least down to the passing of the Act 38 Geo. III. c. 60, which made the specified amount as then levied perpetual on certain terms. In all the acts, down to the 38 Geo. III. c. 5 inclusive, the Commissioners are directed to appoint "assessors " n for the purpose of assessing all the property, real as well as personal. Now if there be any meaning in all this, it surely is that there was to be every year a new assessment, for otherwise what need would there be of assessors for the real estates ? Collectors of the monies to be levied would be sufficient, whereas there is always a distinct and separate clause for the appointment of "Collector of the monies which shall be assessed as aforesaid" o. What was to be the valuation of the real property on which the pound rate was to be levied ? It is true the words "according to the true yearly value thereof" are omitted after 1696; but there are no express words to exclude the implication of them; I have met with no clause expressly declaring the will of the Legislature to be that the valuation made in the fourth year of King William and Queen Mary shall prevail in future years. I have met with a clause declaring that the proportions shall be used; but the proportional rate of contribution means something quite different from the real rate—4 units bear the same proportion to 2 that 2 do to 1; and also the same that 2,000,000 of units do to 1,000,000 of units. This being the case, and the acts after the 7 and 8 W. & M. c. 5 being obscure as to the manner in which the rate was to be levied upon real property, why should not the previous acts, though expired, and therefore no longer law, which would tend to clear up that obscurity, be applied for that purpose ? If we adopt from these acts the words "of the full yearly value at the time of assessing thereof," we find some meaning given to the clauses in the subsequent acts ordering with such minuteness the appointment and marking out the particular duties of " assessors." Nor is this construction repugnant to the specifying the total amount to be levied by the act of the year. As the rate is not fixed at which the assessment is to be made on real estates; the magnitude of the amount on which the rate is to be made would only have the effect of diminishing the amount of the rate itself, since, where a specified sum is to be raised on a certain quantity of property at a rate of so much in the pound, the amount of the rate will of course be in the inverse ratio of the amount of the fund from which it is to be taken. This seems to me further confirmation of the opinion that the Commissioners of the Land Tax, as they are called, have been all along proceeding in an illegal manner, and affords an additional argument in favour of a total revision of a measure such as the present Land Tax, which professes to be, and is entirely grounded on those illegal proceedings.