Mr. Battiste to Mr. Hay.
Port an Prince, September 12, 1903.
Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith copy of a letter received from the firm of C. Lyon Hall & Co., doing business in this city, relative to the law recently promulgated here imposing a license tax on all foreigners doing business in the country, amounting to 50 per cent of that paid for their “patents.”
I inclose a translation of the portion of the law especially bearing on the question.
A law always existed here which required that all foreigners before opening a place of business must apply to the President of Haiti for a license, which application had to be renewed yearly, but for which no charge was made excepting 15 cents for the stamp paper on which it was granted. On obtaining this license the party addressed himself to the communal council, which issued to him a patent, for which he paid according to the tariff of the patent law.[Page 372]
Under the new law, it is to the secretary of state of finance that the request for a license must be made, accompanied by a receipt of the National Bank of Haiti attesting to the payment of the license tax, under penalty of a refusal of the license.
As Haitiens are not obliged to apply for this license to do business, they are not subject to this tax, while all of our citizens doing business in the country will be obliged to pay, which is in violation of the clause of Article V of the treaty with Haiti that specifies that our citizens “shall not be compelled to pay any contributions whatever higher or other than those that are or may be paid by native citizens.”
In the same translation will be found the provisions of the same law, imposing a tax of $5 on voyagers crossing the ocean and $2 on those voyaging in the Antilles, traveling first class. This tax, although called a passport tax, is collected on every first-class passage ticket sold, against which there is considerable complaint on the part of voyagers.
Respectfully submitting the above to the attention of the Department, I would be pleased to have its opinions and instructions on the subject for my guidance.
I am, etc.,