to Mr. Welsh
Washington, February 18, 1879.
Sir: At a recent convocation of boards of railroad commissioners held at Columbus Ohio, a committee was appointed to examine and report [Page 414] upon the methods of taxation as respects railroads and railroad securities now in use in the various States in the Union, as well as in foreign countries.
Mr. Charles F. Adams, jr., of Boston, the chairman of that committee, has requested the co-operation of this Department with a view to obtain the information desired from abroad. As the object in view is deemed to be one of national interest, I have to request you to obtain and transmit to the Department, at your earliest convenience, such statements in detail as are obtainable, and as may be necessay for a correct understanding of the systems of railroad taxation in use in Great Britain. The information should especially cover the following points, namely:
- On what general recognized principle, if any, is the railroad taxation of Great Britain based”?
- In how far are the railroad companies taxed as holders of realty?
- In how far as holders of personalty?
- In how far are they subject to a franchise tax?
- In how far is their stock taxed as personalty to its owner?
- What taxes are levied on the receipts of the companies, whether net or gross?
I am, &c.,
Note.—A similar instruction pent to the minister to Austria-Hungary, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Switzerland.