This section of the book is from the "Introduction To Public Finance" book, by Carl Copping Plehn.
Many of the acts of the various administrative departments are of such a character as sometime to confer a special benefit upon individuals for which a fee is charged. The police may render extraordinary services as in the protection of property on special occasions, on the control of masses of people, preventing intrusion, etc. Examples of these special services are very frequent. The same is true of the special services of detectives for private persons.
Fees for public education are gradually falling into disuse. They were originally charged for all grades of instruction from the lowest up to the university. The importance ofprimary education to the general welfare of the people and to the prosperity of the State, when governed by popular franchise, led to the abolition of fees for that grade of instruction at a very early date. In England, owing to the prevalence of an extreme laissez-faire view upon this subject, fees for education were continued longer than in most countries, having only very recently been entirely abolished. In the higher grades, wherever such were in charge of the State, fees were retained much longer than elsewhere. The great universities of the American commonwealths have set the example of free tuition for their thousands of students, although they still retain a number of small fees for registration, diplomas, and certain incidental expenses connected with laboratory and similar instruction. European State universities still generally retain the fee system for most of the lecture courses. Schools intermediate between those giving rudimentary education and the universities are generally managed without fees, like the lower grades. Educational functions of governments seem to have been going through the same transformation which roads have gone through. Already the larger part of the cost is met from general taxes and but a small part from fees. Finally the remaining fees will fall away.
In those countries in which the State supports the churches, or churches of a certain denomination, there are a number of fees connected therewith, such as those for the use of churches and church-yards, for baptisms, christenings, marriages, burials, confirmations, and communion. The means for meeting the rest of the expenses are drawn from two sources. A part is sometimes taken from the general taxes or from special taxes collected for the purpose, and the remainder from voluntary contributions by the attendants, or from the sale of sittings and the like. This is the only important remnant of voluntary contributions in any part of the financial system. In most instances the voluntary contributions are for special purposes, organised charity, missions, etc., which are, perhaps, not properly considered of a public character.
The fees rendered by individuals in connection with their industrial and commercial enterprises are very numerous. The oldest and simplest are charges for the use of market places, later for the use of public exchanges, etc. ; then come the charges for statistics collected by public officers, and the charges for the use of bridges, roads, quays, etc. The modern substitutes for roads: railroads, canals, street railroads, omnibuses, are already passing from private into public hands and the period of transition is marked by a more and more extended use of the fee system. Other means of communication, the post, the telegraph, and the telephone, are of the same character. Fees for coinage are also for services to commerce. They are in use by every country in some form or other. In the United States the charge for coinage was one-fifth of one per cent. England allows the Bank of England to make a similar charge when advancing notes upon bullion, and to set the price in notes for gold coin and gold bars. These fees must not be confused with the charges known as seigniorage, the latter being a tax upon commerce.