The demands of the agricultural interests had now been satisfied and for nearly two decades no serious complaints of a lack of revenue for local purposes reached the legislature. It is pertinent to inquire at this point whether at any time during the period 1844 to 1866, land was actually overburdened, or whether the movement which began during the latter 'fifties and which resulted in the repeal of the state tax in 1866, was merely the successful attempt of one industrial class to escape a part of its just share of taxation.

The real motives that determine the action of deliberative bodies are always difficult to discover. Moreover, the motives and causes of action paraded before the public are often fictitious. We are, therefore, justified in inquiring as to the real reason for the act of 1866. Unfortunately, complete evidence upon which to base a history of the bill during its passage through the legislature is not available. But the statement of the Commission to Revise the Revenue Laws is the best at hand and that evidence is clearly to the effect that the distribution of taxation, as it existed in 1863, was unjust to the owners of real estate.

During the years 1868 to 1879, the tendency was to lighten the tax burdens of the corporations. *21 The table on page 143 which has been compiled from the reports of the Auditors General shows the receipts by the state from corporation taxes for the eleven years 1868 to 1879, inclusive.

The table emphasizes the points made by the Auditor General. In 1873 the total yield of the taxes upon corporations was $4,901,600, while in 1879 it was but $3,282,400. On the other hand, it must not be concluded that the repeal of some provisions of the tax law and the modification of others was solely responsible for this decline in productivity. The great industrial depression which followed the crisis of 1873, and which reduced the earnings of many corporations and forced others into bankruptcy, doubtless caused some falling off in receipts from these taxes. The decline in the yield of the tax on capital stock from 1876 to 1879 is, however, attributable to modifications made by the law of 1877. *22

During the years 1880 to 1889 the yield of the various taxes upon corporations increased, but such augmentation as occurred scarcely brought it back to the level it had reached during the years 1871 to 1873.

21 In 1878, the Auditor General was of the opinion that, with the exception of the coal and insurance companies, corporations were, in general, less heavily taxed than in the years prior to 1868. Report (1878), p. 4.

22 Aud. Gen. Report (1879), p. 3.

Receipts At The Pennsylvania State Treasury From Corporation Taxes, 1868-18791

(in thousands of dollars)

Tax

1868

1869

1870

1871

1872

1873

1874

1875

1876

1877

1878

1879

Capital Stock..............................................

1,064.1 252.9 442.8 382.9 307.5 192.4 216.9 360.0 67.5

220.4

1,037.2 238.3 310.9 371.9 293.9 159.6 187.2 360.0 60.7

266.2

1,241.3 274.5 396.2 391.0 401.5 251.2

1,269.5 467.6 339.4 436.5 471.7 163.8

1,308.0 389.9 348.0 453.1 502.9 299.4

1,415.6

581.3 446.3 795.2 385.4 336.4

1,339.1

307.0

89.2

79.2

130.9

162.7

2,135.6 44.2 65.1

121.9 21.5

521.7

2,148.3 27.9 49.2

2,086.3

1,364.3

1,006.7

Corporate Loans...............................

 

Net Earnings or Income..........................

45.6

72.3

1.5

482.8

39.2

547.6

.4

530.2

31.8

Gross Receipts.....................................

565.5

Tonnage.................. .............

   

Coal Companies.............................

521.0

645.0

National Bank Stock..

 

Commutation of Tonnage Tax................

360.0 59.0

279.9

284.9

.3

360.0

85.2

332.9 273.9

2.5

360.0 101.6

351.4

265.0

.3

230.0 68.3

353.5 288.1

490.0 56.5

292.8 305.1

460.0 46.0

156.5

285.7

460.0 35.1

146.9 202.7

460.0 25.2

500.9 394.3

460.0 23.3

221.2 251.2

460.0

Premiums on Charters of Corporations.. Tax on Premiums and Licenses of Foreign Insurance Agencies....................

21.1 199.7

Bank Stock................................................

310.1

Bank Dividends........ .....

     

Gross Premiums of Domestic Insurance Cos......................................

             

36.4 .6

41.8

Log and Boom Cos........................

     

1.1

.9

1.5

1.6

1.5

.1

.8

.7

         

Total........................................

3,507.4

3,285.9

3,939.8

4,204.1

4,380.5

4,901.6

3,254.1

3,859.7

3,591.2

4,069.7

3,474.4

3,282.4

   

1 For fiscal years ending November 30. From Reports of Auditors General for years given.

The variations in the yield of the principal taxes paid by corporations during this decade are set forth in the table on page 145.