Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. X.: That the Greatness of Taxes depends on the Nature of the Government. - Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. X.: That the Greatness of Taxes depends on the Nature of the Government. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 1.
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That the Greatness of Taxes depends on the Nature of the Government.
TAXES ought to be very light in despotic governments; otherwise who would be at the trouble of tilling the land? Besides, how is it possible to pay heavy duties in a government that makes no manner of return to the different contributions of the subject?
The exorbitant power of the prince, and the extreme depression of the people, require that there should not be even a possibility of the least mistake between them. The taxes ought to be so easy to collect, and so clearly settled, as to leave no opportunity for the collectors to increase or diminish them. A portion of the fruits of the earth, a capitation, a duty of so much per cent. on merchandizes, are the only taxes suitable to that government.
Merchants in despotic countries ought to have a personal safeguard, to which all due respect should be paid. Without this they would be too weak to dispute with the custom-house officers.