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  • Dissolution of feudal "Allumfassender Haushalt" and the "Benefit Theory".



In feudal "Allumfassender Haushalt" the ruler, as a matter of course, mixed up public and private matters. The feudal "Hoheit" in medieval society was based on "Patriarchaler Patrimonialismus". It follows from this that the treasury of the ruler was regarded as private property and his revenues came from his estates and various prerogatives. The system of taxation, in a modern sense, was far from existing. Along with the "Lebensraum" enlarged with the attainment of a new stage of technical advance, there came, however, a great social change, namely, the transition from "Patrimonialstaat" to "Steuerstaat". With the beginning of the downfall of Feudalism the ruler came upon financial straits, owing to the increase of new unitary administrative expenditure and to the degeneration of the old tax system. When the revenue was insufficient to cover the new expenditure, the ruler unavoidably asked for an optional tax "Bede". By the process of this optional tax, tax payments could be solved as the result of agreement with taxpayers. The royal authority came into existence as the political ruler in this enlarged Lebensraum. To begin with, he had to consolidate the foundation of financial revenue for the purpose of solidifying his kingdom. His financial revenue, therefore, depended more upon the new capitalistic, bourgeois economic relations than the old feudal revenue based on his various prerogatives. Taxation thus came an essential element in the modernising process of public finance. When taxation became compulsory and universal, a logical explanation was needed which could satisfy new taxpayers. Hence there emerged "Benefit Theory" of tax payment. According to Hobbes, the Impositions are nothing else but the Wages, due to them that hold the public Sword. Petty's words are : "It is generally allowed by all that men should contribute to the public charge, but according to the share and interest they have in public peace." To sum up, it may be said that in general the idea was that men should be taxed according to the benefits received from the state. Again, it is not to be overlooked that the very tax based on this benefit principle was to be a consumption tax. A more serious argument in favour of taxes on general consumption was derived from Hobbes' political philosophy, in which he put forward a functional view of the state. During this great transition to the modern capitalistic state, it was desirably that taxation should not be a big obstacle to the accumulation of capital and, at the same time, that the foundation of Steuerstaat shoud be placed on a firm basis. According to this view, in the last resort, it may be said that "Benefit Theory" was the fruit to take shape gradually out of the social and historical background of this period of the great transition.




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