Speeches delivered by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas, discussing certain phases of contemplated legislation Page: 29 of 61
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tax, the sum of $7,322,947. In Texas for the year 1921 the sum
of $139,328. For reasons peculiar to the subject as distinguished from
other sources of revenue, it would be well for the Legislature to consider
placing this service under State authority. In Texas, as in other
States, there is an increasing number of estates representing large private
wealth. Incident thereto and to the inevitable processes of the advancing
years, the State should receive considerable revenue from inherited
property. Under an inheritance tax law properly drawn and
administered, we should be receiving from this source at the present time
far in excess of $1,000,000 per annum.
TTnder our present inefficient tax laws we have no effective way of
collecting taxes. Approximately six million dollars are now due the
State as delinquent taxes. This does not include the millions of dollars
properly and equitably due the State that never gets on the tax
rolls. In justice to the State, and in justice to those who do pay
their taxes, this past due tax money should be collected. No business
enterprise can survive that does not collect what is due it. The State
is no exception to this rule.
SEPARATION OF STATE AND COUNTY TAXES.
If I were writing the tax laws for Texas, I would not levy an ad
valorem tax for State purposes. I would release all property tax to
the counties for county purposes. In this way, I would lift, in part,
the tax burdens from the home builders and small property owners of
the State who have been too long contributing more than their proportionate
part to the support of the government. The levy and collection
of a property tax for State purposes has not only proven in
this State to be unfair and inequitable, but that it requires too much
machinery, produces too many leaks, and is necessarily expensive. A
far better policy would be to let the counties collect whatever ad
valorem tax for county purposes they may desire on county property,
real estate and personal property, and use it as they see fit. Then let
the State ascertain the amount of money necessary to maintain its
educational system, support its courts, its charitable institutions, construct
its highways and provide for other worth-while things of a
growing, progressive State, and by an income tax, an inheritance tax,
a tax on natural resources, a franchise tax, a tax on certain occupations,
and corporate privileges, get the money and pay the bills.
When in the administration of the powers of government we undertake
the task of apportioning its cost, we should be guided, as near as
may be, by the rule of ability to pay. The power to lay tribute upon
the people is one that should be exercised with care to the end that
injustice may not be imposed upon either property or privilege. With
this thought uppermost in mind as we contemplate the tremendous
proportions of consolidated capital and enterprise, which during recent
years has taken the place of individual effort, we are reminded
that a new order of things has superseded the old and that in the
adjustment of the State's fiscal needs we must adopt new methods of
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Neff, Pat M. Speeches delivered by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas, discussing certain phases of contemplated legislation, book, 1923; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth5835/m1/29/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .