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(Redirected from Excise duty)

An excise is an indirect tax or duty levied on items within a country. It is an ad valorem tax on specific goods or a fixed rate tax on specific goods; in this manner it differs from a general sales tax or value added tax.

Excise duties usually have one of two purposes, either to raise revenue or to discourage particular behaviour. Taxes such as those on fuel, alcohol and tobacco are often justified on both grounds. But theoretical economics suggests that the optimal revenue raising taxes should be levied on items with an inelastic demand, while behaviour altering taxes should be levied where demand is elastic.

Excise taxes can be imposed at the point of production or importation, or at the point of sale. They are usually waived or refunded on goods being exported, so as to encourage exports, though they are often re-imposed by the importing country. Smugglers will seek to obtain items at a point at which they are not taxed and then sell them at price between the pre-tax and post-tax price. They also look to find loopholes, which may exist through importing to different countries, before then exporting to the destination country.

For similar items, excise duties are the same for imported and domestically produced goods; if the tax is different, then there is an explicit or implicit customs duty or tariff.

Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language defined excise in 1755 as A hateful tax levied upon commodities, and adjudged not by the common judges of property, but wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid.

While presenting before the Supreme Court, Mr. Edward F. McClennen described the excise tax as follows:

"Excise," in England and in the Colonies, for at least one hundred and forty years before it was used in the Constitution, meant an inland levy on selected tangible property, or upon the owners of it, because of the activity in which the property was moving, as in the manufacture, in intermediate sale, or in the ultimate sale commonly amounting to consumption. The antithesis was the direct tax upon property in general, certainly land, when taxed on a rate fixed by its static appraised capital value, possibly when measured by its annual unwrought return in rent, income, or products, and, debatably, upon personal property so appraised or judged. Both the direct tax and the excise were preeminently property taxes, -- one regardless of its activity or inactivity, and the other taking that activity into consideration. In 1766 Dr. Johnson defined "excise" as "a hateful tax levied upon commodities, and adjudged not by the common judges of property." Dict. (3d ed., 1766). He defined "commodity" as "interest, advantage, profit, convenience of time or place, wares, merchandise." Id. "Commodity" suggests, as the principal thought, merchandise. In 1776 Adam Smith in his "The Wealth of Nations" said, "The duties of excise are imposed chiefly upon goods of home produce destined for home consumption. They are imposed only upon a few sorts of goods of the most general use." In 1780 the Massachusetts constitution indicated direct taxes to be the normal source of revenue, but gave the legislature authority to impose "reasonable duties and excises, upon any produce, goods, wares, merchandise, and commodities, whatsoever." In 1788 the Constitutional Convention of New York urged an amendment to the Constitution "That the Congress do not impose any excise on any article (ardent spirits excepted) of the growth, production, or manufacture of the United States, or any of them." 1 Elliot's Debates 72; Luther Martin said "By the power to lay excises, -- a power very odious in its nature, since it authorizes officers to go into your houses, your kitchens, your cellars, and to examine into your private concerns, -- the Congress may impose duties on every article of use or consumption, on the food that we eat, on the liquors that we drink, on the clothes that we wear, the glass which enlightens our houses, or the hearths necessary for our warmth and comfort." Cf. Chancellor Livingston in the New York Convention, 2 id. 341; Nicholas in the Virginia Convention, 3 id. 243; also 5 id. 40; Hamilton, Federalist, No. 21, p. 182; Ellsworth, Connecticut Convention, 2 Elliot 192; Writings of Gallatin, p. 73.

See also

Her Majesty's Customs and Excisebe:Акцыз de:Verbrauchsteuer nl:Accijns pl:Akcyza


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