So far the changes made in assessing and taxing property have been void of satisfactory results. If all the devices suggested above were generally adopted, some of the defects of the present property tax might be less flagrant, yet it seems doubtful if the scheme as a whole can be made satisfactory. Most authorities would be willing to conclude concerning the general property tax, as does Professor Seligman:
The general property tax as actually administered is beyond all doubt one of the worst taxes known in the civilized world. Because of its attempt to tax intangible as well as tangible things, it sins against the cardinal rules of uniformity, of equality, and of universality of taxation. It puts a premium on dishonesty and debauches the public conscience; it reduces deception to a system, and makes a science of knavery; it presses hardest on those least able to pay; it imposes double taxation on one man and grants entire immunity to the next. In short, the general property tax is so flagrantly inequitable that its retention can be explained only through ignorance or inertia. It is the cause of such crying injustice that its alteration or its abolition must become the battle cry of every statesman and reformer.1
1 Seligman, Essays in Taxation, p. 62.
Seligman, Essays in Taxation, chap. xi. Lutz, The Tax Commission,
Proceedings of the National Tax Association, 1913, pp. 351-371; 1915, pp. 42-77; 1919, pp. 477-496.