Mr. Battiste to Mr. Hay.

No. 1330.]

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.,

Alexander Battiste.
[Inclosure 1.]

Messrs. C. Lyon Hall & Co. to Mr. Battiste.

Sir: We beg to call your attention to the law published in the Moniteur of 22 August, 1903, putting an extra tax on foreigners doing business in Haiti, in articles Nos. 55 to 71 and especially in article 63, which fixes the amount at half the tax already paid for our “patents.”

This tax is not imposed on Haitiens, only on foreigners, and we consider it in violation of the treaty in force between the United States and Haiti and ought not to be imposed on American firms.

Hoping that this matter may be satisfactorily arranged, we have, etc.,

C. Lyon Hall & Co.

Title V.License tax.

Art. 55. There is established by the present law a license tax to which are subject all foreigners carrying on in the Republic a commerce, industry, or any kind of a profession subject to a patent.

Art. 56. This license tax is created for the benefit of the State, and shall be collected by the National Bank of Haiti as all the other receipts of the State.

Art. 57. Each year, from the 1st of July to the 1st of September, there shall be drawn up a list of all the foreign contributors subject to a license tax.

Art. 58. This list, indicating by columns the names and first names of each merchant, industrial or professional, his nationality, his residence, the kind of commerce, industry, or profession that he carries on, the amount of the patent he pays or should pay, the amount of the license tax applicable to him, shall be drawn up at the diligence of the secretary of state of finance in all the financial arrondissements, under the care of the administrators of finances of the Republic. For this purpose the secretary of state of finance shall forward to them printed forms of the list from the 1st to the 15th of June of each year, which shall be filled out and returned to his department by the 15th of September at the latest.

Art. 59. In the principal places of the financial arrondissements the list shall [Page 373]be drawn up by the administrator, and in the other communes by the collector of finances. These printed lists shall be sent to the latter by the administrators from the 1st to the 10th of July, and they shall be bound to return the list filled out by the 15th of August at the latest.

Art. 60. The list of license mentioned in the two preceding articles shall be drawn up in triplicate. The administrator of finances shall certify to the correctness and submit it to the secretary of state of finances, who shall vest it with the executory formula and decree. The minister shall send back two of the three originals to the administrator of finances to be kept in his archives to serve, first, for the issuance of the order for collection prescribed by article 67 of the regulations of the treasury service, and afterwards for the preparation of the list the following year, and annex the other as a justificative document to the ordinance of the receipts that he will draw up in conformity to article 66 of the same regulations.

The third original of the list remains with the minister of finances to facilitate the collection of the tax.

Art. 61. The periods fixed in 57, 58, and 59 are imperative and should be strictly observed under penalty, in case of violation and of delays, by a detention of one-thirtieth of the salary of the functionary for each day’s delay, the suspension with forfeiture of the whole salary, if the delay is more than ten days, and the revocation in case of a repetition, all without prejudice to the penalties inflicted by article 150 of the penal code.

Art. 62. The communal magistrates are bound, under penalty of dismissal, to communicate to the administrators or the collectors of finances, at every requisition, the list of patents for the current year, and to furnish them all the information needed to facilitate the preparation of the lists, and to assure the collection of the license tax.

Art. 63. The license tax shall be the one-half of the amount of the patent of each foreign contributor.

The collection shall be regulated according to the number of establishments, and not according to that of the persons employed therein, so that the contributor who has several separate retail shops, or who carries on several industries or professions, shall be bound to obtain a special license for each one of his establishments.

Art. 64. The request for a license shall henceforth be addressed to the secretary of state of finances. It shall indicate the name and Christian name of the contributor, his nationality, his residence, the kind of commerce, industry, or profession that he carries on, the number and situation of his establishments. There shall be joined thereto the receipt of the National Bank of Haiti, attesting the payment of the license tax under penalty of a refusal of the license.

The request for a license shall be made from the first to the twentieth of October of each year, under penalty by the contributor of incurring a fine equivalent to five times the amount of the license tax to which he is liable. In case of a repetition the fine shall be doubled, without prejudice to the penalties mentioned in article 27 of the law on the regulation of the direct taxes against the contributor who shall carry on a commerce, industry, or profession that is forbidden.

Art. 66. It is forbidden to carry on one or more industries or professions subject to different patents. All violations of the present provisions shall be punished by the penalties inflicted by article 65.

Art. 67. The communal magistrates, or their substitutes, are bound to inform without delay the secretary of state of finance of the foreigners in their districts who violate the provisions of the three preceding articles, under penalty of being liable to the fine and other penalties fixed by article 65.

They shall be punished with a fine three times that of the foreign contributor violating, and, besides, with an imprisonment of from one to three years, with interdiction to exercise any public function during the period, in a case where they shall be convicted of having delivered or of having allowed to be delivered patents to foreigners who shall not have obtained the license indispensable for the carrying on of their commerce, industry, or profession.

Art. 68. The license tax is due not only by each foreigner carrying on a commerce, industry, or a profession subject to a patent, but also by each commercial or idustrial society under whatever name it may be established in which a foreigner may be a member, under any title whatsoever of partnership.

In the latter case the foreign partner alone shall be subject to the license tax, [Page 374]which the society to which he belongs shall be bound to pay, reserving the right to appeal.

Art. 69. When a foreigner subject to a license tax is employed under any title whatever in the service of a foreign or Haitien merchant, industrial or professional, the latter is responsible to the State for the amount of the tax, and is then, in case of a violation, liable for the penalties mentioned in article 65.

Art. 70. The tax shall be inscribed on the budget of ways and means under the “Rubric of license tax “and shall form one of the sections of the “Chapter of miscellaneous receipts “of that budget.

Each year with the budget of receipts there shall be remitted to the legislature a certified copy of the lists that may have served for the estimation of this tax.

Art. 71. There shall be kept at the national bank and in the public administrations a special account of the license tax.

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