There remains but one other very important property tax and that is the inheritance tax, or the successions tax, sometimes called death duties.1 The feudal "relief" and " heriot " were payments made from the estate of a dead vassal, or by his heirs, in recognition of the lord's authority. Similar payments were made upon the transfer of property. But the direct connection between these feudal dues and the modern inheritance taxes is hard to trace. It is probable that the older dues suggested the feasibility of the modern inheritance tax. But no closer connection than that has been established. The modern inheritance tax is a special exercise of the taxing power. It is resorted to on account of the comparative ease with which large returns can be obtained at relatively little expense and without great friction. It is generally justified in one of two ways : (1) It is claimed that the deceased person has probably not paidhis share of the general taxes during hislifetime, and that the publicity necessarily connected with the transfer of his property to his heirs affords an excellent opportunity for the fiscus to " get even " with him. If this were the sole justification, it would require that the exact history of every estate should be investigated, and only those subjected to the tax that could be shown to have escaped taxation.

1 See Max West, "The Inheritance Tax," Columbia College Studies, IV., 2; also the excellent chapters in Bastable, 2d ed., and Seligman, Essays, pp. 307 ff.

But this would be a laborious and costly process. Another justification is, therefore, sought. (2) It is claimed that in all cases of collateral inheritance, the newly acquired wealth comes to the heir as a fortuitous, more or less unexpected gain. He had been living without it, and this sudden increment of wealth represents, temporarily at least, a sudden increase in his ability to pay taxes. This justification points to the necessity of exempting the inheritance by immediate dependents of the deceased. They were already living upon that property; and the death and breaking up of the family and of the estate represent to them not an increased, but a decreased, tax faculty.

An examination of the many forms of inheritance taxes reveals two main tendencies. The first is to exempt small estates and to establish a progressive rate for larger ones. The second is to exempt that portion of the estate passing to the immediate heirs. The grounds for this second exemption have already been examined. The grounds for the first are wrapped up in the general principles of a proportional or progressive rate. A very good example of these principles is afforded by the new English death duties of 1894, and the older " Legacy and Succession Duties " of 1881, which, however, are not progressive as to amount of property. Under the new law the estate of every person dying after the 1st of August, 1894, must pay a duty which varies according to the following schedule :

The older legacy and succession duties are also progressive, but in a different way, rising as the degree of relationship of the recipient of the legacy becomes more and more remote from the deceased, from 1 in a hundred to 10 in a hundred. Thus the total burden that may fall upon the share of any one person can amount to 18 per cent ; i.e. 10 in 100 of the duties of 1881, and 8 in 100 of those of 1894.

In the United States, inheritance taxes are now in use in thirteen commonwealths. In all but one of these, New York, direct inheritanceis untaxed, and there only personal propertyso inherited is taxed. The list of exempted relatives varies somewhat from commonwealth to commonwealth.

. s

Estates from 100 to 500 pay 1 0 per hundred.

' 500 '

1,000 '

' 2 0 '

1,000 '

' 10,000 '

' 3 0 '

' 10,000 '

' 25,000 '

' 4 0 '

' 25,000 '

' 50,000 '

' 4 10 '

' 50,000 '

' 75,000 '

' 5 0 '

75,000 '

' 100,000 '

' 5 10 '

' 100,000 '

' 150,000 '

' 6 0 *

' 150,000 '

' 250,000 '

' 6 10 '

' 250,000 '

' 500,000 '

' 7 0 '

' 500,000 '

' 1,000,000 '

' 7 10 '

' 1,000,000

8 0 '

The taxes are not progressive. In all but Tennessee a certain portion of the estate is exempt. Probate fees and taxes are very common, existing in most of the States. They are, however, not in proportion to property except in Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia.