In Holland[67] there are both stamp duties 
and duties upon registration; which in some 
cases are, and in some are not, proportioned 
to the value of the property transferred. All 
testaments must be written upon stamped paper, 
of which the price is proportioned to the 
property disposed of; so that there are stamps 
which cost from three pence or three stivers 
a-sheet, to three hundred florins, equal to 
about twenty-seven pounds ten shillings of 
our money. If the stamp is of an inferior 
price to what the testator ought to have made 
use of, his succession is confiscated. This is 
over and above all their other taxes on succession
Except bills of exchange, and some 
other mercantile bills, all other deeds, bonds
and contracts, are subject to a stamp duty
This duty, however, does not rise in proportion 
to the value of the subject. All sales of 
land and of houses, and all mortgages upon 
either, must be registered, and, upon registration
pay a duty to the state of two and a-half 
per cent. upon the amount of the price 
or of the mortgage. This duty is extended 
to the sale of all ships and vessels of more 
than two tons burden, whether decked or undecked. 
These, it seems, are considered as a 
sort of houses upon the water. The sale of 
moveables, when it is ordered by a court of 
justice, is subject to the like duty of two and 
a-half per cent
In France, there are both stamp duties and 
duties upon registration. The former are 
considered as a branch of the aids of excise
and, in the provinces where those duties take 
place, are levied by the excise officers. The 
latter are considered as a branch of the domain 
of the crown, and are levied by a different 
set of officers
Those modes of taxation by stamp duties 
and by duties upon registration, are of very 
modern invention. In the course of little 
more than a century, however, stamp duties 
have, in Europe, become almost universal
and duties upon registration extremely common. 
There is no art which one government 
sooner learns of another, than that of draining 
money from the pockets of the people
Taxes upon the transference of property 
from the dead to the living, fall finally, as 
well as immediately, upon the persons to 
whom the property is transferred. Taxes 
upon the sale of land fall altogether upon the 
seller. The seller is almost always under 
the necessity of selling, and must, therefore, 
take such a price as he can get. The buyer 
is scarce ever under the necessity of buying
and will, therefore, only give such a price as 
he likes. He considers what the land will 
cost him, in tax and price together. The 
more he is obliged to pay in the way of tax
the less he will be disposed to give in the way 
of price. Such taxes, therefore, fall almost 
always upon a necessitous person, and must, 
therefore, be frequently very cruel and oppressive
Taxes upon the sale of new-built 
houses, where the building is sold without the 
ground, fall generally upon the buyer, because 
the builder must generally have his 
profit; otherwise he must give up the trade
If he advances the tax, therefore, the buyer 
must generally repay it to him. Taxes upon 
the sale of old houses, for the same reason as 
those upon the sale of land, fall generally 
upon the seller; whom, in most cases, either 
conveniency or necessity obliges to sell. The 
number of new-built houses that are annually 
brought to market, is more or less regulated 
by the demand. Unless the demand is 
such as to afford the builder his profit, after 
paying all expenses, he will build no more 
houses. The number of old houses which 
happen at any time to come to market, is regulated 
by accidents, of which the greater 
part have no relation to the demand. Two or 
three great bankruptcies in a mercantile town, 
will bring many houses to sale, which must 
be sold for what can be got for them. Taxes 
upon the sale of ground-rents fall altogether 
upon the seller, for the same reason as those 
upon the sale of lands. Stamp duties, and 
duties upon the registration of bonds and 
contracts for borrowed money, fall altogether 
upon the borrower, and, in fact, are always 
paid by him. Duties of the same kind upon 
law proceedings fall upon the suitors. They 
reduce to both the capital value of the subject 
in dispute. The more it costs to acquire any 
property, the less must be the neat value of it 
when acquired. 
All taxes upon the transference of property 
of every kind, so far as they diminish the capital 
value of that property, tend to diminish 
the funds destined for the maintenance of 
productive labour. They are all more or 
less unthrifty taxes that increase the revenue 
of the sovereign, which seldom maintains any 
but unproductive labourers, at the expense of 
the capital of the people, which maintains 
none but productive
Such taxes, even when they are proportioned 
to the value of the property transferred
are still unequal; the frequency of transference 
not being always equal in property of 
equal value. When they are not proportioned 
to this value, which is the case with 
the greater part of the stamp duties and duties 
of registration, they are still more so. 
They are in no respect arbitrary, but are, or 
may be, in all cases, perfectly clear and certain. 
Though they sometimes fall upon the 
person who is not very able to pay, the time 
of payment is, in most cases, sufficiently convenient 
for him. When the payment becomes 
due, he must, in most cases, have the 
money to pay. They are levied at very little 
expense, and in general subject the contributors