This section of the book is from the "Introduction To Public Finance" book, by Carl Copping Plehn.
The mere mechanical details of the methods of bookkeeping and public accounts cannot be described here. About all that can be done is to make such explanation as will enable the student to easily comprehend the published accounts and statistics in their main features.
1 Cf. Kinley's "Independent Treasury," and Buckley's "Custody of State Funds," Annals of the American Academy, Vol. VI., 2 November, 1895.
The revenue account is generally very simple. It contains items named according to the sources from which they come. Care must be taken in studying the reports of the fiscal officers on the revenues to distinguish the receipts that represent income from the receipts that are merely formal transfers and bookkeeping expedients. For example, the English finance account of the United Kingdom for the year ending March 31, 1895, contains the following : Receipts ; I. Balance in Exchequer, April 1, 1894, £5,977,118, 18s. 9d. II. Revenues received into the Exchequer ; viz., Customs, Excises, etc., £94,683,762, 10s. 2d. ; total, £100,660,881, 8s. 11d. This was what England had to draw on. But following that appear a number of other " Exchequer receipts," among which are repayments of Advances, as, (1) by the mint for the purchase of bullion for coinage, £700,000, representing merely a return to the Exchequer of money temporarily passed to the mint. The same year the Exchequer advanced to the mint £615,000, which will appear in 1896 as a receipt increased by the seigniorage. (2) The Exchequer borrows money temporarily in anticipation of the revenues. This appears, of course, as a receipt of £13,700,000, but is not revenue. (3) It renewed a number of outstanding bills and bonds amounting to £14,123,400. These appear as receipts, offset, of course, by an equal expenditure. But (4) it created an additional debt of £760,000, for barracks and telegraph. This sum may fairly be called revenue. So that the total amount of money that came as actual income to the treasury was £101,420,881, 8s. 11d. But the total receipts foot up £130,217,647, 13s. 8d.
On the expenditure side, the Issues, or credits to disbursing officials, are first the Consolidated Fund "Services." That is, the payments for (1) the National Debt "Services," (2) the "other consoli dated fund services," which consist of the civil list, annuities and pensions, salaries and allowances, courts of justice, miscellaneous "services," the Exchequer contributions to Ireland, and the annuity under the Indian Army Pension Deficiency act of 1885. After the consolidated fund "services," which foot up to £ 26,500,000, come the supply " services " for the army, ordinance factories, navy, and miscellaneous civil "services," for the collection of customs and inland revenue, post office, telegraph, and postal packet "services." These two items, the consolidated fund and supply "services," contain all that is strictly chargeable to the revenue. They amounted in 1895 to £93,918,420, 18s. 4d. In addition there were special expenditures of £810,000, making a total of £94,728,420, 18s. 4d. But there were a large number of additional issues: (1) bills and bonds paid off by receipts from new bills, (2) temporary advances repaid, a part of which were for deficiencies in the consolidated fund. These and one or two other minor items, with a balance of £6,300,826,15s. 4d., brought the " Issues " up to the receipts.In studying the accounts published by the Treasury Department of the United States, we have different difficulties to meet. There is generally a clear statement, free from repetitions, or transfers, of the revenues according to the sources, and of expenditures according to departments, or objects. The only difficulties arise from the peculiar and arbitrary grouping of the expenditures. This comes from the illogical distribution of duties among the different departments already referred to. Some of the peculiarities are that the expenditure for the " civil establishment" includes foreign intercourse, public buildings, collecting the revenues, deficiency in postal revenues, rebate of tax on tobacco, refunding of direct taxes, French spoliation claims, District of Columbia, and similarly incongruous items. Those for the military establishment included rivers and harbours, forts, arsenals, and sea-coast defences. For the naval establishment included construction of new vessels, machinery, armament, equipment, and improvement of navy yards. Expenses not otherwise classified are generally listed as expenses of the Treasury Department.