This section of the book is from the "Introduction To Public Finance" book, by Carl Copping Plehn.
The simplest form of personal taxation is the collection of an equal contribution from each citizen. But such a tax cannot be large, else it would impose a burden beyond the ability of the poor. A poll tax by itself cannot yield sufficient revenue to support the government. The uniform per capita tax is not just unless all wealth is equally distributed, and only in a very primitive community is such equality found. Hence it is that, outside of the United States, the poll tax now arouses nothing more than an historic interest. In the United States there are about thirty commonwealths that still have the poll tax. It is levied on all males between the ages of 20 or 21 years and 45 or 60. It is very laxly and poorly collected in almost all cases, being in general successfully evaded by all who have no other tax to pay. In four cases it takes the form of a fee for the registration of voters. In the early taxes of the commonwealths of. the United States there was frequently an assessment of each person at so much per poll as a part of the general property tax. In some commonwealths the poll tax still exists in this form.
In a few cases this contribution is used for local purposes ; thus, in some commonwealths there is a road tax of so much per capita assessed upon those individuals who are found by the authorities on the road. The road tax is generally payable either in labour or in money.
The returns from the poll tax are generally insignificant. Despite the apparent ease of assessment the poll tax is expensive to collect. It frequently causes much opposition and friction. It militates against the demands of equality, and has been superseded by other forms of personal taxation, which recognise differences in faculty.