German writers on Public Finance generally begin the discussion of revenues with the statement that the State requires services and commodities. The services are furnished by the citizens ; at first by all invirtue of membership in the State, later by particular ones, who are paid for them. The commodities or wealth required may be produced by the State or taken from the citizens. In the ancient primitive community, services are rendered by the citizens as their proper contribution to the State. The commodities needed are for the most part furnished by the individuals without any recognition of a transfer of ownership to the State. The division of labour necessary for the successful administration of more complex affairs of the State demands a separation of the persons permanently in the service of the State from the other classes. These must then be supported from somewhere, and in classical times this is accomplished by giving the State, or what is the same thing in classic thought, its special officers, the income from certain sources, as mines, or productive enterprises, and taxes upon tributary peoples, or certain inferior classes of citizens. Out of these funds the public officers were supported, and those paid in the service of the State for the exercise of its functions were maintained.

Again, in the middle ages, feudalism furnished a mode of support for public officers by giving them a certain control over land and its occupants, a means which, without the use of money, provided services and commodities for the public needs.

But later as money became more plentiful, and in ordinary transactions payments in kind and in services were commuted into payments in money, the government in turn commuted services due into money payments. At the same time, lands, originally conveyed to public officers in consideration of their public services, and to enable them to perform those services, passed absolutely into their control and were treated, in part at least, as their private property, and the services and commodities they yielded became the private income of these individuals and their families. But although the revenues from the domains, retained in this same way by those families, which became the sovereigns, were still applied to public expenses, they soon became insufficient, as the State's functions grew, and other resources were sought. In the mad scramble for public revenues, old rights to dues and services were tenaciously retained by rulers or their officers. Especially were the claims to military and similar general services held. These claims, too, were finally commuted into money payments, which became compulsory just as the services from which they were derived had been compulsory. The names used for the first revenues, which exceeded the receipts from domains and the customary services, show very distinctly the voluntary character of the payments. They character of are called beggings, requests, gifts (beden,petitiones, benevolences, dona), or from thepoint of view of the assistance given, aids (aide, steuer). With the gradual growth of the needs, for which these demands were made, into permanent needs, with the further centralisation and concentration of the public functions, the neglect of public duties by the feudal lords, and quasi-public officers quartered on the land, and with the consequent performance of these duties by the government, the demands upon the people became permanent and compulsory.