Compulsory contributions toward public services are a feature of all complex societies. Mesopotamia had two kinds of levies that could be imposed by the main institutional bodies: the temple, the state (see PALACES), or the city. First there were the contributions in labor (corvee duty) or armed service (military duty). Both are well attested since the third millennium B.C. The former could be seen as a legacy of previous social systems where maintenance tasks were performed collectively. Corvee workers were essential for highly labor-intensive jobs such as the clearing and dredging of canals and other irrigation installations, as well as the construction of city walls and public buildings. This workforce was primarily constituted of young men, and also formed the main contingent of fighters in case of military campaigns and for defense (see WARFARE).
   Taxes in kind levied by temples on their sharecroppers were generally a tenth of the yield (“tithe”). Temples were themselves subject to taxation to the state at times when there was a strong centralized government, as during the time of the Third Dynasty of Ur. That the city ruler could demand payments in silver for all kinds of professional activities is made clear in the royal inscriptions of Uruinimgina of Lagash from the 24th century B.C. He was at pains to reduce the exorbitant sums paid to officials for divorces, the brewing of beer, or the burial of the dead. In the Akkad period, King Naram-Sin introduced a country-wide taxation scheme in which contributions were levied on provinces (city-states) and collected at the capital for distribution. Tax was payable on crops, livestock, trade, and craft production. Payments in kind and in silver had to be accounted for, stored, and distributed as required. The administration of the tax system made considerable demands on the bureaucratic structure of the state. The detailed workings of the system can best be studied in the documents from the time of the Third Dynasty of Ur.
   During the Old Assyrian period, merchants doing business in Anatolia paid taxes to the city of Assur on leaving with their export goods (e.g., 10 percent on the textiles) and on arrival at Kanesh, the trade colony, where the tax payments were used for the maintenance of the colony.
   In the Neo-Assyrian empire, taxable services extended to any lucrative trade, and there were variable rates for different commodities. Tax collectors could be accompanied by soldiers, to enforce people’s contributions.
   Just as individual kings could invent new taxes and new sources of revenue, they could also reduce the tax burden and exempt temples or cities from payments. Such pronouncements are known from a number of rulers and usually as a reaction to massive rises of insolvency and debt slavery.

Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • taxation — tax‧a‧tion [tækˈseɪʆn] noun [uncountable] TAX 1. the act or system of charging taxes: • These reforms will occur at the same time as changes in banking and taxation. • Reinvested profits would be exempt from taxation (= would not be taxed ) …   Financial and business terms

  • taxation — [ taksasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • taussacion 1283; lat. taxatio ♦ Le fait de taxer (I); son résultat. 1 ♦ Fixation par voie administrative, réglementaire, du prix maximum (parfois minimum) applicable à certains biens, certains services. Taxation de denrées… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • taxation — tax·a·tion n 1: the action of taxing: as a: the imposition of taxes b: the judicial determination of costs 2 a: revenue obtained from taxes b: the amount assessed as a tax 3: a particular system of taxing …   Law dictionary

  • Taxation — refers to the act of a taxing authority actually levying tax. Taxation as a term applies to all types of taxes, from income to gift to estate taxes. It is usually referred to as an act; any revenue collected is usually called taxes. Taxation can… …   Investment dictionary

  • Taxation — Tax*a tion, n. [F. taxation, L. taxatio a valuing, estimation, from L. taxare. See {Tax}.] 1. The act of laying a tax, or of imposing taxes, as on the subjects of a state, by government, or on the members of a corporation or company, by the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • taxation — Taxation. s. f. v. Il n a guere d usage qu au pluriel, & sign. Certains droits attribuez à quelques Officiers qui ont le maniement des deniers du Roy. Il a tant pour ses taxations. de tout l argent qui luy passe par les mains, il a cinq deniers… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • taxation — [tak sā′shən] n. [ME taxacion < MFr taxation < L taxatio < pp. of taxare: see TAX] 1. a taxing or being taxed 2. a tax or tax levy 3. revenue from taxes …   English World dictionary

  • Taxation — (v. lat.), Schätzung, Würdigung des Werthes eines Gegenstandes, bes. wenn sie im Processe od. sonst in Veranlassung eines juristischen Geschäftes geschieht. Die T. erfolgt durch Personen, welche entweder von den betheiligten Parteien eigens zu… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Taxation — (lat.), Schätzung oder Wertbestimmung einer zum Verkauf, zum Austausch oder zur Übergabe bestimmten Sache, geschieht auf Anordnung einer Staatsbehörde oder auf Veranlassung von Privatpersonen durch Taxatoren, Sachverständige, die von den Parteien …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • taxation — (n.) early 14c., imposition of taxes, from Anglo Fr. taxacioun, O.Fr. taxacion, from L. taxationem (nom. taxatio), noun of action from pp. stem of taxare (see TAX (Cf. tax) (v.)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • taxation — ► NOUN 1) the levying of tax. 2) money paid as tax …   English terms dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.