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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 48


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The object of these Acts is to compel every person in the Colony who has property of a greater value than £500 to contribute towards the necessities of the State in proportion to his possessions. This contribution has to be made in addition to taxes paid through the Custom House, by Stamp Duties, and in other more or less indirect ways. It is admitted that direct taxation is most unpalatable. If a man pays £20 a year through the Customs he does not notice it, and does not miss the money, but if he pays £10 a year to a collector or receiver he becomes intensely conscious of the charge. Again, taxes through the Customs give no trouble to the payer, but either a Land or a Property Tax gives him a good deal. He has to value his own property, has to fill up forms, make declarations, possibly has to attend an Assessment Court, and finally has to take his money to some receiving officer. Even if a man knows how to do all this he finds it somewhat vexatious. It must be especially so with any new scheme of taxation, and it is the hope of the writer that this pamphlet may tend to render the assessment of their real and personal property more easily made by owners, may assist them in filling up the forms required, and may explain those portions of the Assessment Act which will, in the first instance, most affect the public; in fact, may enable the tax-payers to disburse their money with the least trouble to themselves, and to the officers of the department. It is not pleasant to pay taxes, neither is it an unmixed pleasure to assist in making others do so. The administration of a new Act is, to a far greater extent than the working of an old system, a source of constant anxiety to those who are likely to be looked upon by the public as the only persons who derive any advantage from it. Whatever will make the work cast upon the tax-payers more easy for them to do readily and correctly, will lessen the labour and worry of the Property-tax officials; therefore, if any considerable proportion of the inhabitants of New Zealand, who are worth a clear £500, can be induced to read these pages, both tax-payers and those who, in contradistinction, may be called tax-collectors, will, it may be hoped, find things go on more evenly and with less irritation than might have otherwise been the case. However, the public must not forget that the tax is on a principle entirely new to these Colonies, and much will have to be learnt—will have to be evolved out of somewhere or something—before it will be possible to make the machinery work as smoothly as the operations connected with the Income Tax do in the Old Country.