from the duties of custom and excise, would 
necessarily increase with the revenue and consumption 
of the people. 
The revenue which, in any civilized monarchy
the crown derives from the crown 
lands, though it appears to cost nothing to 
individuals, in reality costs more to the society 
than perhaps any other equal revenue 
which the crown enjoys. It would, in all 
cases, be for the interest of the society, to replace 
this revenue to the crown by some other 
equal revenue, and to divide the lands among 
the people, which could not well be done better, 
perhaps, than by exposing them to public 
Lands, for the purposes of pleasure and 
magnificence, parks, gardens, public walks, 
&c. possessions which are everywhere considered 
as causes of expense, not as sources of 
revenue, seem to be the only lands which, in 
a great and civilized monarchy, ought to belong 
to the crown
Public stock and public lands, therefore, 
the two sources of revenue which may peculiarly 
belong to the sovereign or commonwealth
being both improper and insufficient 
funds for defraying the necessary expense of 
any great and civilized state; it remains that 
this expense must, the greater part of it, be 
defrayed by taxes of one kind or another; 
the people contributing a part of their own 
private revenue, in order to make up a public 
revenue to the sovereign or commonwealth
Of Taxes
The private revenue of individuals, it has 
been shown in the first book of this Inquiry
arises, ultimately from the three different sources
rent, profit, and wages. Every tax must 
finally be paid from some one or other of 
those three different sources of revenue, or 
from all of them indifferently. I shall endeavour 
to give the best account I can, first, 
of those taxes which, it is intended should fall 
upon rent; secondly, of those which, it is 
intended should fall upon profit; thirdly, of 
those which, it is intended should fall upon 
wages; and fourthly, of those which, it is intended 
should fall indifferently upon all those 
three different sources of private revenue
The particular consideration of each of these 
four different sources of taxes will divide the 
second part of the present chapter into four 
articles, three of which will require several 
other subdivisions. Many of these taxes, it 
will appear from the following review, are 
not finally paid from the fund, or source of 
revenue, upon which it is intended they should 
Before I enter upon the examination of particular 
taxes, it is necessary to premise the 
four following maxims with regard to taxes in 
1. The subjects of every state ought to 
contribute towards the support of the government
as nearly as possible, in proportion to 
their respective abilities; that is, in proportion 
to the revenue which they respectively 
enjoy under the protection of the state. The 
expense of government to the individuals of 
a great nation, is like the expense of management 
to the joint tenants of a great estate
who are all obliged to contribute in proportion 
to their respective interests in the estate
In the observation or neglect of this maxim
consists what is called the equality or inequality 
of taxation. Every tax, it must be observed 
once for all, which falls finally upon 
one only of the three sorts of revenue above 
mentioned, is necessarily unequal, in so far 
as it does not affect the other two. In the 
following examination of different taxes, I 
shall seldom take much farther notice of this 
sort of inequality; but shall, in most cases
confine my observations to that inequality 
which is occasioned by a particular tax falling 
unequally upon that particular sort of private 
revenue which is affected by it. 
2. The tax which each individual is bound 
to pay, ought to be certain and not arbitrary
The time of payment, the manner of payment
the quantity to be paid, ought all to be clear 
and plain to the contributor, and to every 
other person. Where it is otherwise, every 
person subject to the tax is put more or less in 
the power of the tax-getherer, who can either 
aggravate the tax upon any obnoxious contributor
or extort, by the terror of such aggravation
some present or perquisite to himself. 
The uncertainty of taxation encourages the 
insolence, and favours the corruption, of an 
order of men who are naturally unpopular, even 
where they are neither insolent nor corrupt
The certainty of what each individual ought 
to pay is, in taxation, a matter of so great importance
that a very considerable degree of 
inequality, it appears, I believe, from the experience 
of all nations, is not near so great an 
evil as a very small degree of uncertainty
3. Every tax ought to be levied at the time
or in the manner, in which it is most likely to 
be convenient for the contributor to pay it. A 
tax upon the rent of land or of houses, payable 
at the same term at which such rents are usually 
paid, is levied at the time when it is most 
likely to be convenient for the contributor to 
pay; or when he is most likely to have wherewithal 
to pay. Taxes upon such consumable 
goods as are articles of luxury, are all finally 
paid by the consumer, and generally in a 
manner that is very convenient for him. He 
pays them by little and little, as he has occasion 
to buy the goods. As he is at liberty 
too, either to buy or not to buy, as he pleases
it must be his own fault if he ever suffers any 
considerable inconveniency from such taxes