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difference in the tax burden indicates merely a different degree of government participation in the economic life of the country; and government expenditures, such as for social-security benefits, are merely an alternative to private expenditures for the same services in other countries. The Government of the United Kingdom, for instance, has held the cost of many of the necessities of life down to a low figure by absorbing a large part of the cost itself. This adds to the cost of government in the United Kingdom, while in countries that do not follow this practice the additional cost is borne by individuals as a personal expenditure outside of the tax structure. Instances of this kind can be multiplied; and, unless the data are limited to comparable functions of government, comparisons will in general only point to the differences in the services performed.
A further point to bear in mind is that in some countries the national governments perform many functions performed by local governments in other countries. For example, in times of peace the tax collections of the national government of the United States have been less than those of State and local governments combined (see table 38), and in Canada and Switzerland the national government receipts are normally the least important, while in France the national government is the dominant factor and local revenue receipts are a small part of taxes collected. Furthermore, since the war, many national governments act as purchasing organizations for some of the essential imports of foodstuffs and industrial raw materials. This makes their revenues and expenditures higher in proportion to their national incomes than would be the case for other countries.
Intercountry comparison of per capita tax and debt burdens is meaningful, therefore, only as a measure of the degree of participation of the government in the economy. Taxes and government debt are payments for goods, services, and additions to national wealth provided by governments. The greater the volume of goods provided and services rendered under government auspices, the higher the tax and/or debt burden.
Supplementary tables are included in this chapter, partly as a service to persons using the data to enable them to see in what manner the gross foreign currency data were put into the form of per capita amounts expressed in dollars. For this purpose table 33; Population and Exchange Rates, was prepared. In table 32, the national debt is divided into its internal and external components. The latter reveals the countries which are most dependent financially upon foreign countries. In a few cases, such as Hungary, the relationship between the internal and external debts is the result primarily of the postwar inflation which, for all practical purposes, wiped out the value of internal obligations.
In the answer to the item 11, the term tax burden was interpreted broadly to include other revenues which constitute a part of the burden imposed on the people for the support of the government. Insofar as possible data were collected regarding all foreign countries. However, it was impossible to obtain any substantial amount of information regarding state and local taxes and revenues and, accordingly, the data supplied relate exclusively to national governments.
The taxation and other revenue figures shown in table 31 are for the calendar years 1939 and 1946; or where the country is on a fiscal-year
basis, for the fiscal years which include the most months in 1939 and 1946. Actual taxes and revenues collected rather than budget estimates were used in all cases where the data were obtainable. Budget estimates are used when actual revenues are not available. These data were culled from a variety of sources including consular dispatches, official publications of the various governments, and Moody's Governments and Municipals. The publication, Tax Systems of the World, was especially useful for 1939 data concerning Latin America. Taxes include direct and indirect taxes such as excise, sales, estate, income, corporation, unemployment compensation and other socialsecurity taxes, customs duties, fees, and licenses. "Other revenues" include government royalties, interest, and dividends from government investments, proceeds from UNRRA sales, sales of public land, confiscated property and surplus property, but exclude loan proceeds, grants-in-aid, and reparation receipts. Net profits derived from government enterprises include such government undertakings and monopolies as the post office and railroads, telephone and telegraph, commodity monopolies, and exchange control. Each government enterprise in this category has been treated as a separate unit; consequently, where the expenditures exceeded receipts, the deficit was not deducted from the profits of some other unit. The total resultant revenue receipts, expressed in the local currency, was then converted to United States dollars at the average official exchange rate for the period.
The same procedures were followed in compiling the public debt of the various countries. Whenever available, the debt as of December 1939 and 1946, or the nearest available date, is broken down into its foreign and domestic components. Debts of government-owned corporations, to the extent that they are held outside of the government, are included. World War I debts to the United States have been excluded, as these are being shown separately in chapter I. Loans to private companies guaranteed by the government are excluded unless the government has been called upon to make good on its guaranty. Municipal debt guaranteed by the Federal government is considered as municipal rather than Federal. In addition to the above sources for the Government revenue, other main sources of debt data were the League of Nations' Statistical Yearbook and the Statesman's Yearbook.
Data regarding the national incomes of various countries were obtained from official estimates where those were available. There is, however, considerable divergence among them with respect to the methods and principles of compilation and evaluation, particularly the inclusion and exclusion of a number of items. Sometimes these differences are due to the nature of the available statistics and sometimes they arise out of the peculiar structure of the economies to which they relate, and sometimes they are due to conceptual differences with regard to the content of national income.
Another difficulty marring the comparability of the per capita figures in dollar terms is the selecting of a proper exchange rate for translating the foreign currencies into dollars. As a consequence of government control of the exchange rates and the internal maladjust
ments brought about by the war, the foreign exchange rates of many countries are kept at an artificially high level which does not correspond to the actual purchasing power of their currencies in their domestic markets.
In general, the estimates relate to national income at factor cost; that is, the aggregate earnings of labor and property which arise from the current production of goods and services.
Data regarding the national income of the United States were obtained from figures released by the United States Department of Commerce. Those relating to foreign countries were obtained from various sources. In the first place data contained in a paper prepared by Dr. J. B. D. Derksen, Chief, National Income Statistics Research Section, Statistical Office, United Nations Secretariat, were used (the Comparability of National Income Estimates, delivered before the World Statistical Congress, Washington, D. C., September 1947). Second, other data were received from reports of the United States consular service.
TABLE 31.-Per capita tax burden, debt burden and national income of the United
TABLE 31-Per capita tax burden, debt burden and national income of the United States and of foreign countries, and ratio of taxes to national income, 1939 and 1946-Continued