The Latest Freaks of Taxation

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Benjamin Ricketson Tucker

The Latest Freaks in Taxation.

INSANE as the State is, no one has ever dreamed that it would contemplate the levying of a special tax on people so unfortunate as to be afflicted with disease. Yet this is what it is on the point of doing. In THE NEW FREEWOMAN of August 1st I called attention to the growing tendency of State legislatures in the United States to require certificates of health from both parties to a marriage. Now comes the congress of the United States with a proposition for a general income tax, graduated for all incomes in excess of $4000, and, in the case of celibates, for all incomes in excess of $3000. That is to say, the celibate is to be taxed on an extra thousand dollars. But, if ill, he is forbidden to marry. Therefore those whom the State forces to remain celibates are to be taxed virtually because they are diseased. You are damned if you do, and you are damned if you don't. France, more logical thus far than the United States, will damn you only if you don't. No doubt the double damnation will come in due time, but for the present France will fall afoul of you only if you fail to marry. But this damnation, though single, is far the more serious. Under the income tax proposed in France the benedict who enjoys an income of 10,000 francs will pay a tax of only 25 francs a year, while the bachelor enjoying the same income will pay 1025 francs a year. Besides paying the same tax that the benedict pays, the bachelor must pay, in addition, every year, twenty per cent. of his entire income in excess of 5000 francs. This proposal is being assailed vigorously by such writers as Urbain Gohier, Victor Margueritte, Paul Brulat, and Remy de Gourmont; and a special way in which it will work injustice is pointed out by Paul Desachy, who says in "Gil Blas":

"The project is dominated by a veritable spirit of reaction. It is a manifestation against free union, against those who think that marriage, as it now exists, is an immoral contract because love does not figure in it, because it is a guarantee only for the rich, because it has been instituted solely for the maintenance of property and the consolidation of castes, and because it is not adapted to a society where each participates in the social capital and in the social task. Those who profess these theories, on which Stendhal has written vigorous pages, are becoming more numerous every day; and still more numerous those who, under the influence of the movement for woman's emancipation, are practising them and founding families, by the simple assent of two free wills, without the aid of scarf or chasuble. Well, Mr. Lawgiver, do you intend to tax heavily, doubly, the life of these beings who, regardless of social conventions, love and procreate?"

Remy de Gourmont attacks the proposal from various points of view, but his conclusive objection is that "a tax of this sort is an assault upon liberty." But, my dear Monsieur de Gourmont, what tax is not?

Benj. R. Tucker.

  • Benjamin R. Tucker, “The Latest Freaks of Taxation,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 5 (August 15, 1913): 94.