11 DECEMBER 1909, Page 13


[TO THE EDITOR OF TEE "SPECTATOR."] SIR,—The Los Angeles Times, the largest paper in South- Western United States, speaking of present taxation in England, puts the case for the Budget in the following

terms :—

"While 680,000 rich persons pay in taxation £38,000,000 a year, 5,100,000 persons of the middle class pay £42,000,000 a year, and 38,200,000 working-class people pay £40,000,000. Thus the three social classes pay approximately the same amount in taxation ; the glaring inequality of such a division becomes apparent when we see that the accumulated wealth of the rich amounts to £12,000,000,000, of the middle class to £3,000,000,000, and of the whole of the working class to only £1,000,000,000. Moreover, land escapes almost entirely the burdens which fall on most other kinds of property."

Many of your readers on the Pacific Coast would be glad to know how nearly correct the above statement may be.—I am, Ventura, California.

[The figures quoted by the Los Angeles Times are purely guesswork. There is no official record of the number of persons paying Income-tax, because a large amount of the tax is collected at the source. There is no means of ascer. taming what proportion of the total taxation of the country is paid by rich persons, middle-class people, and working-class• people respectively. For example, who can tell whether a tax on a bottle of whisky has been paid by a rich man or by a poor man P Finally, there is no means of ascertaining what is the accumulated wealth of the different classes specified. Not only do these three classes grade into one another, but nobody knows what is the total wealth of the country as a whole. With regard to the statement that land escapes the burdens which fall on other kinds of property, it is diametrically the opposite of the truth. The owner of land has to pay his full Income-tax at is. 2d. in the pound, and the means of evasion which are open to other people are not open to him. In addition, he has to bear the greater part of the burden of local rates, not to mention the tithe rent charge and.the old Land-tax, which are charges from which other property is exempt. —En. Spectator.]