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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30

Property Tax

Property Tax.

From this source last year £310,000 was raised, and this year the Government page 7 wished to raise £75,000 more. He would ask them to consider who it was that was to bear this. They would not be far wrong in saying that half the property tax payers in the colony were those who worked the land. The Government proposed to abolish the exemption, and increase the tax by 2-16th of a penny on all properties worth more than £2500. Major Atkinson, in his speech on the vote of Want-of-Confidence motion, said that such a tax would frighten capital out of the country, and he (Mr H) was afraid there was a great deal of truth in it. They could not afford to do without capital. It seemed to him, however, that the principle of a progressive property tax was a proper one, but he thought the principle might be carried out in another way. What had most burdened the colony in the past was the speculation that had been indulged in for years, in the buying up of land merely to allow it to lie idle, and be enhanced in value by the labours of others in the neighbourhood. He believed there should be no encouragement to anything like a land monopoly, and an increase in taxation might be made by increasing the rates on large holdings. He thought that If there was an increase on holdings of over 5000 acres, and perhaps a higher rate for those of over 10,000 acres, and an almost prohibitive rate on larger properties the tendency would be to break up the land and make it inconvenient for people to hold large tracts of land (applause.) They had seen that Sir R. Stout expected to be able to save £100,000 on the civil service, and that a reduction might be made on the education vote to a considerable extent, which he believed would at any rate come to the £ 175,000 required by the Colonial Treasurer. Yet it was clear that it might be necessary to increase the taxation as increased expenditure was required every year if only on account of the increase in the payment of interest, but it seemed to him that by judicious retrenchment it might be possible to do without any great increase at present, though it was desirable that the customs tariff should be revised (applause).