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after a brief period of indecision, the governor vetoed the measure. Reassessment slumbered in 1894, but two years later the forces were again marshalled and the long-deferred revision was authorized.

This time the crucial point was met by simple compromise. Provision was made for a stringent tho less drastic listing and for biennial relisting. The bonds and certificates of indebtedness of all corporations and the shares of stock of foreign corporations were assessed at their actual market value and subjected to the full state tax (17{ mills in 1896), as all other forms of taxable property. But in lieu of the ordinary municipal and county taxes, varying in rate from 6-10 of a cent to 2 cents, a fixed maximum charge of 3 mills, or 3-10 of 1 per cent., was imposed for local purposes upon property so listed.

The motive of the adjustment was evident. County sentiment stood for a rigorous listing of personalty, and fortified its position by the declaration of the Maryland constitution of 1867, that "every person in the state, or person holding property therein, ought to contribute his proportion of public taxes for the support of the government, according to his actual worth in real or personal property.” City sentiment, willing enough to take its chance with the old assessment law, but fearful of the severities of the proposed new law, stood firm in opposition, insisting that rigid listing meant either a greater premium upon perjury or the quick expulsion of local capital. In this juncture, imposition of the full state rate and a moderate maximum for local purposes were suggested as a fair compromise, and to it both parties assented rather than incur the risk of a second executive veto or the ultimate passage of a drastic measure.


Turning now to the actual operation of the tax, attention will in this connection be confined to Baltimore City. There are several reasons for this, aside from the determining one that only in the case of Baltimore are sufficient data available. The counties publish no reports and make no return of their taxable basis other than a single undifferentiated aggregate to the State Tax Commissioner, published biennially. Moreover, Maryland is distinctly an agricultural state of moderate accumulated wealth. The only other local divisions likely to contain appreciable amounts of securities are Allegheny and Washington Counties—in which Cumberland and Hagerstown are respectively located-and Baltimore County, whose salubrious climate and lower tax rate have induced numerous wealthy persons engaged in business in Baltimore to acquire legal county residence. Finally, the method or utter lack of method in county assessment is such as to make it impossible to get any helpful light whatever upon the merits or defects of the tax itself.

Confining attention to Baltimore, it appears that for the year prior to the reassessment of 1896, securitiesthen liable to the full property tax-were returned in Baltimore only to the aggregate amount of $6,000,000. The reassessment of 1896 resulted for Baltimore City in a return of $58,703,795 of securities. Upon this was imposed 17} mills (the full rate) for state purposes and 30 mills for city purposes. By 1898 the original total had been slightly revised to $60,699,686. The biennial relisting, provided by the original measure, took place in 1898. It proved so complete a failure—the amount assessed rising only to $61,890,764—that a complete change of system was made in 1900. The Appeal Tax Court (the municipal assessing board)

assessing board) was charged with the duty of continuous valuation and quinquennial revision.

The total assessed valuation of securities returned for the 1899 basis as $61,000,000 rose at once in 1900 to $65,000,000, and in subsequent years continued to rise until in 1907 it reached $150,000,000. The precise figures are as follows:

1897 1898 1899 1900 1901 1902




85,971,333 104,221,227 120,423,814 150,947,733 146,688,857

It will thus be seen that in the ten years of its operation the taxable basis of intangible wealth, subject to the flat local rate of 30 cents, has increased from $58,703,795 to $146,688,857, or, roughly, 150 per cent. If the errors of the original assessment and the abnormal depreciation in securities of the last few months be eliminated, and comparison be had between the $58,000,000 of 1897 and the $150,000,000 of 1907, the result is a round increase of 170 per cent. During this same interval of ten years the total assessed valuation of other forms of personalty, excluding shares of stock of domestic corporations, but including tax-exempt manufacturing plants, increased only from $37,020,838 in 1898 to $39,232,866 in 1908, or 6 per cent. The movement in real estate during this same period was from $233,955,093 in 1898 to $325,723,818 in 1908, or 39 per cent. But an appreciable part of this more favorable showing was due to the unusual activity of the Appeal Tax Court in revising real estate valuations in the last three years. If the basis of comparison be made from 1897 to 1904, so as to exclude this period,

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the results show an increase of 46 per cent. in securities and 9 per cent. in real estate.


Both by reason of its absolute increase and of its relative amount as compared with the aggregate assessments of real estate and of other forms of personal property, the record of the tax on securities is apparently most favorable. When, however, we come to analyze the returns and to separate the aggregate basis into the several elements of which it is composed, a vista of further possibilities is disclosed. For this purpose the 1899 basis-as returned by the biennial revision of 1898may properly be compared with the 1908 basis.

The total assessment of securities” in Baltimore for the 1899 basis was $61,890,764. This was distributed among the 2,377 separate accounts. Of these 2,377 accounts, 6 accounts were corporations returning $1,990,752; 778 accounts were trust estates returning $18,404,241, and 1,593 accounts were individuals returning $41,495,771.

The total assessment of "securities” in Baltimore for the 1908 basis is $146,688,857. This aggregate is made up from precisely 3,300 separate accounts. Of these 3,300 accounts, 8 accounts are corporations returning $52,408,092; 1,011 accounts are trust estates returning $26,906,838, and 2,281 accounts are individuals returning $67,373,927.?

Leaving aside the figures relating to corporations and trust estates, as to which special conditions govern, it appears that from 1899 to 1908 there has been an increase of 43 per cent. in the number of individual accounts and an increase of 62 per cent. in the assessed value of the securities as returned.

1 For further particulars as to the assessment of real estate and tangible porponalty, see Report of the Advisory Committee on Taxation and Revenue, submitted to the Mayor of Baltimore (Baltimore, 1908).

? Of the securities assessed against corporations, about $4,000,000 is in dispute on points of law, with chances against the city being able to sustain the assess ments. If this be allowed for, both in the corporation total and in the aggregate security basis, it would give the following percentages for the three terms: corporations 34 per cent.; trust estates, 19 per cent.; individuals, 47 per cent.

Notable as is this result, it is very much less than it should be. That there are within the entire city limits of Baltimore, and out of its total population of at least 550,000 souls, only some 2,281 persons who own “securities" - whereas no less than 1,011 trust estates are so fortunate-is a manifest absurdity.

Such a return can only have one possible explanation; and that is, that the existing methods of assessment fail to secure anything like thorough return for purposes of taxation of such forms of wealth. When we review the course of such assessing activity in Baltimore, it becomes clear that this failure arises not from any inherent defect of the tax itself, but from the unsatisfactory method of its administration.

The general state assessment of 1897 seems to have been neither more nor less efficient, in the valuation of personalty, than any spasmodic assessment so conceived and administered will inevitably be. But, whatever results may have attended this reassessment, it is the common impression that the first biennial revision of personalty in 1898 was deficient in method and a failure in result. Many of the assessors should never have been appointed, and much of the work done was of so slipshod a character as to verge closely upon scandal. For several years thereafter a large part of the efforts of the Appeal Tax Court in the matter of personalty assessments is said to have been absorbed by the necessity of purging the tax books from the errors of the 1898 revision. It was undoubtedly this general dissatisfaction with the manner in which the biennial revision had been conducted, no

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