This section of the book is from the "Introduction To Public Finance" book, by Carl Copping Plehn.
A few other terms which are often used as the names of different groups of taxes and help in a way to classify them must be mentioned in this connection. We sometimes speak of taxes as being separable into (1) those on persons, (2) those on property, (3) those on income. These terms do not indicate the final source from which the tax is paid, but the basis upon which it is levied.
1. In the case of personal taxes the different persons who are to pay the tax are listed and assessed, either (1) individually, as in the case of per capita taxes, or (2) as representatives of a group, as in the family or hearth taxes, or (3) according to some characteristic, as rank in life, office, employment, age, etc., supposed to be indicative of the benefit they receive from the government or their ability to pay. A complete system of such taxes might be built up, and it is possible to suppose that all the requirements of justice could be met thereby.
2. Taxes on property are those taxes which take the property owned by a person as the index either of the benefit received or of the ability to pay.
These taxes may be considered as pursuing property wherever it is to be found, with little or no regard for the personality of the owner. They are not, of course, in any but the most exceptional instances, paid out of property. But no particular regard is had to the real source of payment. They may be levied upon any and every kind of property. They are sometimes called real taxes from res, things. But this usage has no established sanction in English ; in that language real taxes are taxes upon real estate.
3. Taxes on income in the broadest sense are all those taxes which make wealth in the process of acquisition the basis of assessment. These are of two principal kinds: (1) those which are levied upon the annual increment of wealth, as such, irrespective of the person who is the recipient thereof. That is, they treat the various items of wealth increment as the basis of taxation without regard to the grouping of these increments into a whole in the income of any particular person, and consider the person paying the tax, only in so far as he is an income producer through his own activities. This is the character of the British income tax. (2) Those which demand of each person, or seek to obtain concerning each person, a summary of the total income he receives. This latter tax is sometimes so treated as to make it difficult to distinguish it from a personal tax, for the different persons are listed and classed according to amount of income they receive.
By a peculiar and entirely unwarranted use of common English terms in a strange and foreign sense, property, income, and the like have been called the tax objects, and the correspondingtaxes objective taxes, meaning that they are taxes on things in distinction from taxes on persons. On the other hand, the persons are called the tax subjects, and personal taxes called subjective. This usage, although it has the sanction of a great authority, in Professor Bastable, has fortunately not been favourably received. Professor Seligman, in a review of Bastable's book, pointed out that by the object of a tax we usually mean the purpose of the tax, and the tax subjects may be things as well as persons subjected to the tax.1