Thursday December 28, 1871/proposal for income tax

Versailles, Tuesday Evening

In to-day's sitting of the National Assembly the proposal for the establishment of an income tax came on for discussion.  M. Thiers delivered a long speech warmly opposing such a tax, and treated the question from a financial, political, and social point of view.  He dwelt on the insuperable difficulties attending its application in France, and pointed out the resistance it encountered in England, and the proposal of  President Grant to abolish it in America.  He said that the tax would upset the whole fiscal system in France, would clash with existing imposts, would meet with material difficulty in the collection, and would give rise to an unjust and arbitrary assessment.  M. Thiers entered into details showing that the incomes in France were already taxed in one form or another.  He devoted a considerable portion of his speech to the circumstances of the introduction of the income tax in England, and contested the applicability of the English system to France, the economic conditions of the countries being entirely different and beside even England derived a far greater part of her revenue from custom and indirect taxes.  M. Thiers defended the system of taxation in France as the most perfect and equitable existing, and quoted figures to prove that the working classes in England were far more heavily taxed than in France.  Alluding to the question of free trade, M. Thiers admitted his protectionist leanings, but said that if he were an Englishman he would be a free trader: a free trade, had made England's fortune.  In conclusion, M. Thiers
dwelt on the abuse of arbitrary assessment, and drew a somber picture of the perturbation, increased by party division, which the establishment of an income-tax might cause.  He earnestly appealed to the Assembly to support the views of the Government, and called upon the members to unite themselves to him in order to enlighten the people, and said that the Assembly which was making a loyal trial of the Republic, would not commit an injustice.