The influence of French political economists on the ideas on taxation in Spain in the 19th century: The debate of proportional vs. progressive taxes
Javier San Julian Arrupe  1@  
1 : University of Barcelona
Dep. of Economic History and Institutions University of Barcelona Diagonal 690 08034 - Barcelona - Spain -  Espagne

During the 19th century, and particularly in its second half, the consolidation of liberal regimes
in Western Europe triggered discussions on the organization of tax systems, both in public
opinion and among economists. As the century approached its end, one of the most important
debates concerning public finance was the issue of introducing graduate rates in direct taxes.
This matter was closely linked to the emerging debate on the income tax, which slowly spread
all over the continent. Spain was not an exception in this regard: During this period not a small
number of pieces of public finance literature were published, in particular quite many
handbooks, which in general addressed the problem of the form of the tax, discussing the
conveniences and disadvantages of proportional and graduated taxation. On the contrary, the
incoem tax issue would be considered later in Spain.
The influence of French economists in Spanish autors regarding this big debate – particularly of
French liberal economists – was apparent. Indeed, the connections between French and
Spanish liberal schools of economic thought seem to have been quite narrow in second half of
the century, in particular during the years of predominance of the Spanish liberal school. This
paper tries to assess more precisely the fiscal trends which coming from France spread in Spain
and exerted their influence on the ideas of Spanish authors on the debate between progressive
and proportional taxation. Although the discussion on fiscal progressivity was much older and
intense in the French case, at the end of the century, however, in the framework of the reform
in the succession tax in Spain, the debate on progressive rate emerged with unusual strength.
On this occasion, French influence on Spanish authors in this issue re-emerged strongly,
through authors like Garnier, Léon Say or Leroy-Beaulieu. The discussion of this matter in the
French Parliament at the beginning of the decade was also widely addressed, inspiring Spanish
economists and policymakers' positions.

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