Taxation, Corruption And Unsuccessful Reforms Caused Rome To Fall

916 words - 4 pages

From tax collectors running up and down the Nile to modern day families submitting their statements via TurboTax, taxes have been a fundamental component of both ancient and modern societies. Although, helpful with the correct expenditure and system of taxation, in Rome, taxes were detrimental. The inflation of currency, sporadic collection and unequal taxation were all factors that contributed to Rome’s demise. Through, a poor tax infrastructure, corruption, and series of unsuccessful reforms, taxes were destructive to Rome.
The Roman system of taxation had a very poor infrastructure. Through various edicts given by the government not everyone was required to pay taxes. If you were a citizen around 160B B.C, you were not liable to pay taxes. The burden of land tax, tributum solis, was placed on the people of the conquered communities. By doing this the Roman empires’ revenue was undercut (Shaw 813). Not only did this contribute to loss of revenue for Rome, it created a feeling of inequality and animosity among the provinces of Rome. In early Rome, this system of taxation contributed to Rome’s need to raise taxes and devalue currency in the future. (Shaw 815). The older system of Roman taxation was dependent on the success of farming. As nature is erratic every year, the Roman Empire did not have a stable source of income (Shaw 815). The empire had years with prosperous wealth from taxes as well as years with little, due to the unpredictable nature of agriculture.
Corruption was rampant throughout the roman business of taxation. Instead of focusing on the good of the people governors were only interested in advancing their own political careers. During this period tax collection was done through a system called tax farming. During Rome at this time censuses were irregular and hard to conduct so individual communities collected their own taxes and then gave the money to Rome (Bartlett 291). Tax farmers were used to collect these taxes. Tax farmers paid in advance to collect taxes, by loaning money to the state and then collecting more money than is to do, to pay themselves as well as the empire (Bartlett 291). Generals wanted to make money and the tax collection companies wanted large profits. This lead to disputes and the citizens of Rome could not raise enough money to pay all the taxes imposed because of this feud between the generals and the tax farmers (A.H.M. Jones & Bartlett 291). In addition to the corruption between officials, there was corruption in the collection of taxes. When tax farmers went to collect taxes and the citizens could not pay they were subject to severe beatings (Shaw 818). Roman tax collectors often hired thugs and soldiers to brutally mutilate and attack people who could not pay (Shaw 818). This spiked fear in the...

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