Taxes, fees, special assessments, and prices charged for commercial products compose by far the larger part of revenues. A few sources of minor importance exist, however, which should be noted. Some held a prominent place in earlier fiscal systems, but have gradually lost their importance.
Gifts. - A form of revenue of this character is gifts. Most political units still receive gifts, but they are usually for some particular purpose, such as a library, hospital, or educational building. Oftentimes it takes the form of a trust fund for some definite purpose. A form of gift of less importance makes up the " conscience fund." Individuals often repent of having defrauded the government and will send in, perhaps years afterward, a sum to square themselves with the government and to ease their conscience. Often these gifts are so small that the cost of the clerical work in properly recording them makes this an expensive form of revenue.
Escheat and Eminent Domain. - Property may come into the hands of the state by escheat or reversion, or by the exercise of the right of eminent domain. The amount received under the first category is, of course, inconsiderable, for there is little property that cannot be claimed by some other ownership than the state. In exercising the right of eminent domain net revenue is not expected to accrue, since a just compensation is expected to be given in return for the property. If the property thus secured should increase in value over a period of time, and then be sold, the state would be the gainer.
Penalties and Fines. - Receipts from penalties and fines are found in all governmental units, and frequently amount to sums which are not inconsiderable. They are levied, not with the idea of getting revenue, but against some one who has committed a misdeed. It is expected that the penalty or fine will act as a deterrent against violation of law. They come under the penal power of the government, and the amounts thus secured are so variable that they are not usually seriously considered as a part of fiscal systems.
Seligman, Essays in Taxation, chaps, xiv, xv. Urdahl, Fee System in the United States. Rosewater, Special Assessments.