Baron von Thielmann to Mr. Olney.
Washington, June 4, 1896.
Mr. Secretary of State: The Hon. W. Q. Gresham, late Secretary of State, answered my predecessor’s note of October 13, 1894, relative to the duty now levied on German salt in the United States, by his note of October 19, 1894, in which he stated that the matter had been referred to the Secretary of the Treasury for his opinion.
In the meantime, the opinion furnished by your excellency as Attorney-General, to the Secretary of the Treasury, under date of November 13, 1894, was laid before the United States Senate (Mis. Doc. No. 52) on the 16th of January, 1895. I have the honor herewith to inclose a copy of that opinion, and take the liberty specially to refer to the concluding paragraph of your statements, as it appears in the aforesaid Senate document, beginning on page 6, line 16 from foot, and ending on page 7, line 13 from top. You there say that, for want of sufficient data, you are unable to determine whether salt imported by Germany from the [Page 206]United States is placed on the same footing, in respect to duties, as salt produced in Germany, as stated in this embassy’s note of October 13, 1894, or whether the German internal excise tax on salt goes into the treasury of the Empire and not into the treasuries of its several constituent States.
I have now been instructed to lay before your excellency the documents necessary to enable you to form an accurate judgment on the subject. These documents are as follows:
- The text of the law of the North-German Union (which no longer exists), bearing date of October 12, 1867, relative to the internal revenue or internal excise tax on salt.
- The text of the agreement concluded May 8, 1867, concerning the tax on salt among the States which now constitute the German Empire, said agreement having remained in force since the establishment of the Empire, which, in this respect, took the place of the old Zollverein (Customs Union). The words found at the beginning of section 3 of said agreement, viz, “The proceeds of the tax shall be shared in common,” are important, inasmuch as they furnish a basis to show that the salt tax goes into the treasury of the Empire and not into the treasuries of the several States.
- (Nos. 1 and 2, printed in the Bundesgesetzblatt (Collection of the Laws of the North-German Union), No. 6, of 1867, No. 1 appearing on pp. 41–48 and No. 2 on pp. 49–52.)
- The text of that portion of the budget of the Empire for the fiscal year 1895–96 which treats of internal revenue, and which shows that the salt tax referred to under title 4 still, in point of fact, goes into the treasury of the Empire.
- A memorandum elucidating the nature of the German tax on salt by references to the aforesaid laws and other enactments.
Your excellency will be convinced, by a perusal of this memorandum and of the other printed documents relating to the same subject, that the duty of 12 marks per 100 kilograms which is levied on American salt on its importation into Germany is, in fact, nothing but the internal revenue or excise tax which, equal in amount, is levied on German salt by the German Empire, and which goes into the treasury of the Empire, and that, consequently, American salt in Germany is placed on the same footing with German salt.
Under these circumstances, I venture to hope that your excellency will now recommend to the Secretary of the Treasury (by whom no opinion appears to have been expressed such as that to which reference was made in the note of the Department of State of October 19, 1894) to issue a declaration to the effect that, since satisfactory evidence has been furnished that American salt in Germany is placed on the same footing with German salt in respect to duties and taxes, no duty is to be levied on German salt, in pursuance of paragraph 608 of the tariff act now in force, on its importation into the United States.
Begging your excellency to be pleased to inform me of the decision reached in this matter,
I avail, etc.,
- It includes the tax on salt among the taxes that are shared by the several Stages of the Empire.↩