Taxes

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History

David Graeber:

"In the ancient world, free citizens didn’t usually pay taxes. Generally speaking, tribute was levied only on conquered populations. This was already true in ancient Mesopotamia, where the inhabitants of independent cities did not usually have to pay direct taxes at all. Similarly, as Moses Finley put it, “Classical Greeks looked upon direct taxes as tyrannical and avoided them whenever possible.50 Athenian citizens did not pay direct taxes of any sort; though the city did sometimes distribute money to its citizens, a kind of reverse taxation—sometimes directly, as with the proceeds of the Laurium silver mines, and sometimes indirectly, as through generous fees for jury duty or attending the assembly. Subject cities, however, did have to pay tribute. Even within the Persian Empire, Persians did not have to pay tribute to the Great King, but the inhabitants of conquered provinces did. The same was true in Rome, where for a very long time, Roman citizens not only paid no taxes but had a right to a share of the tribute levied on others, in the form of the dole—the “bread” part of the famous “bread and circuses.”

Source: First_Five_Thousand_Years_of_Debt