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Alternate Taxation Systemby James Ruhland
The below is based on some stuff already posted by myself or Bruce (I stole his Port Taxes), but not in a systematic way. I wrote it up for my web pages in prelude to doing a revision of Thyatian ports and trade goods modifiers (originally I planned only to do a section on port taxes, then get into the goods, but decided all the taxes needed to be covered systematically. So ports will have to come later).
Within Thyatis there are three types of taxes: the trade/sales tax (the Commercia), income taxes (mainly used here because of their ease in accounting), and land taxes.
This is a sales tax of 10% imposed on all transactions with the exception of food, clothing, and fixed assets (like buildings). It is levied on all imports, but rebated on all exports (in an effort to promote the sale of Thyatian goods abroad). Various tolls (including harbour fees) are also levied. The Commercia and the major fees are collected by Imperial tax agents. There is a 10% fee for exchanging foreign currency (all transactions must be in Thyatian currency), the proceeds of which go to the Thyatian mint to fund their operations. Lesser tolls, excises, etc. are collected by local agents. Port fees in Thyatis are as follows1:
Port Class A: Port Fee 1gp/HP daily
Port Class B: Port Fee 8sp/HP daily
Port Class C: Port Fee 5sp/HP daily
Port Class D: Port Fee 1gp/HP weekly
Port Class E: Port Fee 8sp/HP weekly
Port Class F: Port Fee 5sp/HP weekly
This income goes to financing the local administration and community, and in Thyatis City in particular it provides a major income, which is used to maintain The City's guard forces (the Deme militias in particular), with significant income going to the Imperial Government for its own purposes. Once additional fees are added, a surtax of 4% is added to the above (in other words, a ship of 120 HP docking in Thyatis City for 5 days pays 624 GP).
Despite these taxes Thyatian ports remain among the most popular visited by merchants, because Thyatis (following the sinking of Alphatia) is the largest market in the Known World. Even before the sinking of Alphatia Thyatian ports were popular because the journey to them was much shorter than to Alphatia. Thyatis has a thriving (and, post Wrath, growing) merchant class of its own, and their are indications that Eusebius intends to remake the Thyatian Empire into a mercantilist, rather than military, Imperium2.
These are retained because they are easy for DMs to use to determine what PCs owe. Using this system, all countries (not just Thyatis) should expect their citizens to pay taxes on their incomes. Thyatis assesses income tax of 20% on the poor, with a 25% surtax on all incomes above 100gp/month3 and on the nobility/aristocracy. This means their effective tax rate is 25% instead of 20%. Expensive equipment and magical items received in payment for services or gained while adventuring are considered to be income. There is no tax on inheritance, however, mainly to permit landowners to pass on their lands to their heirs without burdensome taxes (many such heirs would have cash on hand to pay taxes and would have to sell off property if a inheritance tax was imposed).
Land Taxes should probably be the most important for most nations. In Thyatis lands are taxed as follows, per month3:
good irrigated land: 1 gp/10 acres
good unirrigated land: 1 gp/15 acres
average irrigated land: 1 gp/15 acres
average unirrigated land: 1 gp/25 acres
Orchard (includes olive trees, mulberry trees, etc): 1 gp/40 trees.
Vineyard or garden: 1 gp/5 acres, (could be up to 1 gp/acre if rich).
The above is only a rough guide. Pastoral lands (for herds) are taxed differently (and may differ depending on the type of herds, cattle vs. sheep or horses, for example), and the like. Since players are unlikely to get too involved in the details of agriculture, we'll leave it simplified. Land Taxes only cover the area under cultivation, which should be under two thirds of the total area of the nation, and for some notably "wilderness" realms, might be a third, or even less, of the total area under the jurisdiction of the nation in question (in other words, Bellissaria and even Alphatia, though vast in size but sparsely populated, will not receive tax income for every square acre of land, the vast majority of which is not under cultivation. Still, the parts that are under cultivation are vast compared to KW nations, and form a main source of revenue without which castles enchanted on rolling wheels and other items that advance human welfare would not be possible).
Hearth or Poll Taxes:
Hearth, without oxen: 4 sp
Hearth, with one ox: 5 sp
Hearth, 2+ oxen: 10 sp (1 gp)
Hearth, urban: 20 sp (2 gp)
Hearth Taxes are included along with Land Taxes because they are a form of property tax. Note that in Thyatis another type of tax is often imposed, and that is the "tax" of military lands (the Stratiotika Ktimata), which are granted out by the government in return for the landholder providing military service (similar to Knightly fiefs in other lands). Corvee Labour ("Standard" income in the terms of the Dominion Rules from the Rules Cyclopaedia) is above and beyond the cash tax, and is generally imposed by the local dominion ruler, though for important projects (roads, fortifications) the Imperial Government can commandeer this labour source. Citizens also pay a surtax on all the slaves they own, roughly 25% of their assessed value per year
Recently raided lands/communities may have their taxes partially remitted (land and hearth taxes, for example, but almost never income, commercial, and military service). Most free landholder peasants pay only hearth and land taxes, and little in the way of either income or commercial taxes (since the goods they buy and sell are generally the types that are exempt from the Commercia). Wealthy landholders likely pay all three (commercial taxes on the sumptuaries they buy, land taxes on their lands, and income taxes on the rents and other sources of cash income).
1These figures are taken directly from Bruce Heard's article on Port Taxes which can be found at Stan's D&D Site. The numbers are adjusted for "typical" tax rates (based on the Dominion Income Rules from the Rules Cyclopaedia). If using Bruce's "Silver Standard" based system, divide all numbers by 10.
2More along the lines of the British and Byzantine rather than Roman empire.
3Per Year if using the "Silver Standard".