The railroads and taxation.
--Railroad bonds are now commanding a premium, to that the cost of construction may be regarded as the value of the road for taxation.
In 1856 the Legislature commuted the taxation on the value of railroad property to the tax on passengers and freight.--It becomes a curious matter of inquiry how this commutation effects the general subjects of taxation as property.
The cost of the construction of the Virginia Railroads
other than the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and Northwestern Virginia Railroad, amounts to thirty six million twenty-five thousand six hundred and forty three dollars and eighty nine cents. That portion of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad within the limits of Virginia
cost about twenty millions, and the Northwestern
Virginia Railroad about five millions, which, together with the other railroads, amounts to sixty one millions twenty-five thousand six hundred and forty-three dollars and eighty nine cents. For the six years which have transpired since the passage of this law, the taxes on the property would have amounted to one million five hundred and eighty seven thousand six hundred and sixty five dollars and eighty-six cents.--The taxes committed under the act of Assembly, and which have been paid into the treasury, amount to two hundred and thirty- four thousand four hundred and ninety dollars and thirty cents, showing an actual loss to the State
in six years of one million three hundred and fifty-three thousand one hundred and seventy dollars and fifty-six cents. The railroads which are receiving this bounty by law are mammoth corporations which have caused thirty millions of the public debt on which the people at large are paying a tex at the rate of one per cent, on the value of all their property.
Now, it becomes a question of very grave importance to the taxpayers, whether they will any longer consent to receive from the railroads the mere pittance which this tax on passengers and freight brings into the Treasury.
The whole of the railroads combined pay less than $50,000 per year under this commutation, and if they were taxed upon the value of their property it would amount to six hundred and ten thousand two hundred and fifty-six dollars and forty three cents, thus showing a loss to the State
, or in other words, a bonus to tax-railroads, of at least five hundred and fifty thousand dollars per annum.
It might be as well for the Legislature to lock into this matter, and correct what appears to be a growing evil, and which operates so prejudicially on the masses of the people, and footer monopolies which at all times have been regarded as dangerous to the liberties of the people.