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A Roman term originally denoting only the revenues flowing into the State chest from the State domains, and for the most part collected by contract. The domains consisted of cultivated grounds, the rent of which was paid in money or kind; of pastures and meadows, for the use of which a payment (scriptura) was made (see Scriptura); of forests, from which revenue was derived mainly by the letting of pitch huts; of lakes and rivers let for fishing; and of mines and salt-works. With a view to protecting the citizens from exorbitant prices, the sale of salt had already been made a State monopoly in the earliest years of the Republic, and it remained such till late into the times of the Empire. In letting salt mines the price of the salt was fixed in the contract, as was also the case with many articles produced from mines (see Metallum). The term vectigal also includes the rent paid for buildings, shops, booths, and baths erected on public sites; the payment for the use of bridges and roads, of public water-ways, and sewers in cases where private properties drained into them; export and import tolls (see Portorium), as well as all other indirect taxes. Such was the tax which was introduced into Rome in B.C. 357, and under the emperors was levied throughout the whole Empire, the vicesima libertatis or manumissionis; a tax of five per cent. paid on every manumitted slave, either by himself or his master (see Servus). To these were added under Augustus the centesima rerum venalium, a tax of one per cent. on all articles sold at auctions; the quinta et vicesima mancipiorum, a tax of four per cent. on every slave sold; and the vicesima hereditatum et legatorum, a tax of five per cent. on all inheritances over 100,000 sesterces ($4000), and on all legacies not falling to the next of kin. This impost, with the increase of celibacy and the custom of leaving complimentary legacies to the whole circle of one's friends, proved exceedingly productive, and, though originally limited to Roman citizens, was, with the franchise, extended by Caracalla to all the inhabitants of the Empire, and at the same time raised to ten per cent. Plutarch states ( Pomp. 45) that before Pompey's earlier conquests the vectigalia of the Roman State amounted to the annual sum of 200,000,000 sesterces ($8,000,000). See Naquet, Les Impôts Indirects chez les Romains (Paris, 1875); and the articles Aerarium; Publicani.

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    • Plutarch, Pompey, 45
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