War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0064 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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State of Virginia the average value of slaves, according to the war tax assessments, is $350. 64, while the average in some counties goes up to $400, and in others falls below $300. The citizens of the latter counties contribute to the general fund for war purposes one-fourth less than those of the former. Such inequality is unjust and bears heavily on that class of citizens who are most willing to bear the burden of taxation, and who consequently place upon their property a liberal valuation. Besides, it is calculated to produce murmuring and discontent among the people.

In view of these facts it seems to me that a uniform rule of valuation for slave property in each State should be incorporated in any future tax law that may be passed, so that those slaves of like age and sex should have a uniform valuation fixed by the act itself throughout the whole State.

It would be difficult to adjust any uniform scale of classification for real estate, which is affected by so many contingencies and incidents arising from position with reference to marts of trade and commerce, navigable waters, railroads, &c., but with slaves it is different. Those of like age and sex usually maintain the same price within the limits of the same State. In connection with this subject I beg leave to make a quotation from the report of Joseph D. Pope, esq., chief collector of war tax for the State of South Carolina, He says:

Those persons appointed by the sub-collectors to make the assessment of the property in the State have doubtless, endeavored to discharge the duties fairly and impartially, and in many instances have given great satisfaction, but in other instances the work has been imperfectly done. This results not so much from the fault of the assessors as from the difference of opinion that will exist as to the value of property by two persons in the same community.

It is respectfully submitted that the putting a valuation upon slaves by law, according to classification as hereinbefore referred to (that is, to fix a scale of value for all slaves in each State according to age, sex, and qualifications), the assessors may be dispensed with entirely and the expense of that part of the machinery saved. The sub-collector can make his appointments throughout the district and take the returns in the same manner as is now done by the State tax collectors, and he can fix the value of property quite as well as the assessor, and in less time. If a valuation be ut upon slaves by law, the only class of property now taxes that would be likely to give rise to a difference of opinion is real estate, and the sub-collector's general knowledge of all lands in his district, with the representations of the owner under oath, aided by the opinion of disinterested persons, would enable him to fix the value for taxable purposes without difficulty. The assessors arrive at their conclusions in the same way in taking the present returns. Large towns and cities may be made way in taking the present returns. Large towns and cities may be made an exception, and for them an assessor or assessors may be appointed if necessary.

In additional to these views of Mr. Pope it may be further suggested that each county should constitute a tax district, except in the case of very large counties, which may be divided into two, and that large towns and cities may be managed in the same way.

The sub-collectors' compensation should be a certain per cent. on all sums under $10,000, say, and a diminished per cent. on all over per centrum as the amount increases, so as to make it to his interest dispense with assessors that there would be no tribunal to determine appeals from assessments and applications for a reduction of double tax. This tribunal might be supplied by the appointment of a commissioner for each district from one of the magistrates of the county, trying cases. The most serious evil of the present system of assessments is the diversity of opinion among so great a number, and the