to Mr. Blaine.
Constantinople, May 4, 1881. (Received May 23.)
Sir: I inclose copies of two communications from American citizens to the minister resident, received on the 20th March last, relative to a tax, which there is a well-grounded belief the Ottoman Government has the intention of imposing on all foreigners holding real estate in Turkey.
It is a misnomer to designate this measure a “tax,” for it is in reality a forced loan which, in some cases, will be equal in amount to the market value of the property “taxed.”
It will, it is presumed, meet strenuous opposition on the part of all foreigners holding real estate, as they look upon it as an act of spoliation, and they will have no desire to renew the experience they had in 1878, when they were required to pay two years’ taxes in advance under the distinct understanding that account should be kept of the sums paid to be credited in the tax-lists of those years, a promise which, it is scarcely necessary to say, was not kept, and the taxes had to be paid over again.
The foreign missions will probably come to an understanding on this subject so as to act in concert.
It is to be regretted that the pecuniary necessities of the Ottoman Government oblige it to employ such objectionable expedients to obtain relief from their ever-pressing embarrassments.
Pending the receipt of instructions from the Department, I shall be guided in this matter by the action of the representatives who have such large interests in charge.
I am, &c.,