to the profits of a certain class of people
which can only be guessed at, is necessarily 
both arbitrary and unequal
In France, the personal taille at present 
(1775) annually imposed upon the twenty 
generalities, called the countries of elections
amounts to 40,107,239 livres, 16 sous.[62] 
The proportion in which this sum is assessed 
upon those different provinces, varies from 
year to year, according to the reports which 
are made to the king's council concerning the 
goodness or badness of the crops, as well as 
other circumstances, which may either increase 
or diminish their respective abilities to 
pay. Each generality is divided into a certain 
number of elections; and the proportion 
in which the sum imposed upon the whole 
generality is divided among those different 
elections, varies likewise from year to year
according to the reports made to the council 
concerning their respective abilities. It 
seems impossible, that the council, with the 
best intentions, can ever proportion, with tolerable 
exactness, either of these two assessments 
to the real abilities of the province or 
district upon which they are respectively laid
Ignorance and misinformation must always, 
more or less, mislead the most upright council
The proportion which each parish ought 
to support of what is assessed upon the whole 
election, and that which each individual 
ought to support of what is assessed upon his 
particular parish, are both in the same manner 
varied from year to year, according as 
circumstances are supposed to require. These 
circumstances are judged of, in the one case, 
by the officers of the election, in the other, 
by those of the parish; and both the one and 
the other are, more or less, under the direction 
and influence of the intendant. Not 
only ignorance and misinformation, but 
friendship, party animosity, and private resentment
are said frequently to mislead such 
assessors. No man subject to such a tax, it 
is evident, can ever be certain, before he is 
assessed, of what he is to pay. He cannot 
even be certain after he is assessed. If any 
person has been taxed who ought to have been 
exempted, or if any person has been taxed 
beyond his proportion, though both must pay 
in the mean time, yet if they complain, and 
make good their complaints, the whole parish 
is reimposed next year, in order to reimburse 
them. If any of the contributors become 
bankrupt or insolvent, the collector is obliged 
to advance his tax; and the whole parish is 
reimposed next year, in order to reimburse 
the collector. If the collector himself should 
become bankrupt, the parish which elects him 
must answer for his conduct to the receiver-general 
of the election. But, as it might be 
troublesome for the receiver to prosecute the 
whole parish, he takes at his choice five or six 
of the richest contributors, and obliges them 
to make good what had been lost by the insolvency 
of the collector. The parish is afterwards 
reimposed, in order to reimburse 
those five or six. Such reimpositions are always 
over and above the taille of the particular 
year in which they are laid on. 
When a tax is imposed upon the profits of 
stock in a particular branch of trade, the 
traders are all careful to bring no more goods 
to market than what they can sell at a price 
sufficient to reimburse them from advancing 
the tax. Some of them withdraw a part of 
their stocks from the trade, and the market is 
more sparingly supplied than before. The 
price of the goods rises, and the final payment 
of the tax falls upon the consumer. But 
when a tax is imposed upon the profits of 
stock employed in agriculture, it is not the 
interest of the farmers to withdraw any part 
of their stock from that employment. Each 
farmer occupies a certain quantity of land, for 
which he pays rent. For the proper cultivation 
of this land, a certain quantity of stock 
is necessary; and by withdrawing any part 
of this necessary quantity, the farmer is not 
likely to be more able to pay either the rent 
or the tax. In order to pay the tax, it can 
never be his interest to diminish the quantity 
of his produce, nor consequently to supply the 
market more sparingly than before. The tax
therefore, will never enable him to raise the 
price of his produce, so as to reimburse himself, 
by throwing the final payment upon the 
consumer. The farmer, however, must have 
his reasonable profit as well as every other 
dealer, otherwise he must give up the trade
After the imposition of a tax of this kind, he 
can get this reasonable profit only by paying 
less rent to the landlord. The more he is 
obliged to pay in the way of tax, the less he 
can afford to pay in the way of rent. A tax 
of this kind, imposed during the currency of 
a lease, may, no doubt, distress or ruin the 
farmer. Upon the renewal of the lease, it 
must always fall upon the landlord
In the countries where the personal taille 
takes place, the farmer is commonly assessed 
in proportion to the stock which he appears 
to employ in cultivation. He is, upon this 
account, frequently afraid to have a good team 
of horses or oxen, but endeavours to cultivate 
with the meanest and most wretched instruments 
of husbandry that he can. Such is his 
distrust in the justice of his assessors, that he 
counterfeits poverty, and wishes to appear 
scarce able to pay any thing, for fear of being 
obliged to pay too much. By this miserable 
policy, he does not, perhaps, always consult 
his own interest in the most effectual manner; 
and he probably loses more by the diminution 
of his produce, than he saves by that of his 
tax. Though, in consequence of this wretched 
cultivation, the market is, no doubt, somewhat 
worse supplied; yet, the small rise of 
price which this may occasion, as it is not 
likely even to indemnify the farmer for the diminution