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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

74               A LEVY ON CAPITAL

very considerable. In the first place, I have not
seen any really practicable scheme of redeeming
debt by means of a levy on capital. In so far as
the levy is paid in the form of surrendered War
Loans, it is simple enough. In so far as it is paid
in other securities or mortgages on land or other
forms of property, it is difficult to see how the assets
acquired by the State through the levy could be
distributed among the debt holders whom it is pro-
posed to pay off. Would they be forced to take
securities, mortgages on land, furniture, etc., as the
Government chose to distribute them, or would the
Government have to nurse an enormous holding of
various forms of property and gradually realise them
and so pay off debt ?

Again, a great injustice would surely be involved
by laying the whole burden of this oppressive levy
upon owners of accumulated property, so penalising
those who save capital for the community and letting
off those who squander their incomes. A charac-
teristic argument on this point was provided by the
New Statesman in a recent issue. It argued that,
because ordinary income tax would still be exacted,
the contrast between the successful barrister with an
income of 20,000 a year and no savings, who would
consequently escape the capital levy, and the poor
clergyman who had saved 1000 and would con-
sequently be liable to it, fell to the ground. In other
words, because both lawyer and parson paid income
tax, it was fair that the former should escape the
capital levy while the latter should have to pay it!

But needs must when the devil drives, and in a