Such taxes are, or may be, perfectly certain; 
or may be assessed, so as to leave no 
doubt concerning either what ought to be 
paid, or when it ought to be paid; concerning 
either the quantity or the time of payment
Whatever uncertainty there may sometimes 
be, either in the duties of customs in 
Great Britain, or in other duties of the same 
kind in other countries, it cannot arise from 
the nature of those duties, but from the inaccurate 
or unskilful manner in which the law 
that imposes them is expressed
Taxes upon luxuries generally are, and always 
may be, paid piece-meal, or in proportion 
as the contributors have occasion to purchase 
the goods upon which they are imposed
In the time and mode of payment, they are, 
or may be, of all taxes the most convenient
Upon the whole, such taxes, therefore, are 
perhaps as agreeable to the three first of the 
four general maxims concerning taxation, as 
any other. They offend in every respect 
against the fourth. 
Such taxes, in proportion to what they 
bring into the public treasury of the state, always 
take out, or keep out, of the pockets of 
the people, more than almost any other taxes
They seem to do this in all the four different 
ways in which it is possible to do it. 
First, the levying of such taxes, even when 
imposed in the most judicious manner, requires 
a great number of custom-house and 
excise officers, whose salaries and perquisites 
are a real tax upon the people, which brings 
nothing into the treasury of the state. This 
expense, however, it must be acknowledged, 
is more moderate in Great Britain than in 
most other countries. In the year which 
ended on the 5th of July, 1775, the gross 
produce of the different duties, under the management 
of the commissioners of excise in 
England, amounted to L.5,507,308 : 18 : 8ΒΌ, 
which was levied at an expense of little more 
than five and a-half per cent. From this 
gross produce, however, there must be deducted 
what was paid away in bounties and 
drawbacks upon the exportation of exciseable 
goods, which will reduce the neat produce 
below five millions.[74] The levying of the 
salt duty, and excise duty, but under a different 
management, is much more expensive
The neat revenue of the customs does not 
amount to two millions and a-half, which is 
levied at an expense of more than ten per 
cent., in the salaries of officers and other incidents
But the perquisites of custom-house 
officers are everywhere much greater than 
their salaries; at some ports more than double 
or triple those salaries. If the salaries of 
officers, and other incidents, therefore, amount 
to more than ten per cent. upon the 
neat revenue of the customs, the whole expense 
of levying that revenue may amount
in salaries and perquisites together, to more 
than twenty or thirty per cent. The officers of 
excise receive few or no perquisites; and the 
administration of that branch of the revenue 
being of more recent establishment, is in general 
less corrupted than that of the customs
into which length of time has introduced and 
authorized many abuses. By charging upon 
malt the whole revenue which is at present 
levied by the different duties upon malt and 
malt liquors, a saving, it is supposed, of more 
than L.50,000, might be made in the annual 
expense of the excise. By confining the 
duties of customs to a few sorts of goods, and 
by levying those duties according to the excise 
laws, a much greater saving might probably 
be made in the annual expense of the 
Secondly, such taxes necessarily occasion 
some obstruction or discouragement to certain 
branches of industry. As they always 
raise the price of the commodity taxed, they 
so far discourage its consumption, and consequently 
its production. If it is a commodity 
of home growth or manufacture, less labour 
comes to be employed in raising and producing 
it. If it is a foreign commodity of which 
the tax increases in this manner the price, the 
commodities of the same kind which are 
made at home may thereby, indeed, gain 
some advantage in the home market, and a 
greater quantity of domestic industry may 
thereby be turned toward preparing them. 
But though this rise of price in a foreign 
commodity, may encourage domestic industry 
in one particular branch, it necessarily discourages 
that industry in almost every other. 
The dearer the Birmingham manufacturer 
buys his foreign wine, the cheaper he necessarily 
sells that part of his hardware with 
which, or, what comes to the same thing, 
with the price of which, he buys it. That 
part of his hardware, therefore, becomes of 
less value to him, and he has less encouragement 
to work at it. The dearer the consumers 
in one country pay for the surplus produce 
of another, the cheaper they necessarily 
sell that part of their own surplus produce 
with which, or, what comes to the same thing
with the price of which, they buy it. That 
part of their own surplus produce becomes 
of less value to them, and they have less encouragement 
to increase its quantity. All 
taxes upon consumable commodities, therefore, 
tend to reduce the quantity of productive 
labour below what it otherwise would be, 
either in preparing the commodities taxed, if 
they are home commodities, or in preparing 
these with which they are purchased, if they 
are foreign commodities. Such taxes, too, always 
alter, more or less, the natural direction 
of national industry, and turn it into a channel