Chargé Jay to the Secretary of State .

No. 1361.]

Sir: Replying further to the department’s No. 1023, of February 27, 1906, on the subject of alleged taxation in Turkey of property owned in the United States by the Garabedian brothers, of Worcester, Mass., I have the honor to inclose a report upon this subject from the American consul at Harput which clearly shows that such taxation on the part of the Turkish Government does not exist.

I have, etc.,

Peter Augustus Jay.

Consul Young to Chargé Jay .

No. 126.]

Sir: I beg to acknowledge the receipt of the legation’s No. 433, of the 15th ultimo, having reference to the claim of the four Garabedian brothers, naturalized citizens of Ottoman origin and now residing at Worcester, Mass., to the effect that the Turkish Government is trying to enforce taxation on real estate owned by them in Worcester, and is holding their relative, Sarkis Apkarian, of Mamouret-ul-Aziz, responsible. An investigation and report in regard to the matter is requested.

In reply, I beg to state that Mr. Sarkis Apkarian assures me that so far as he is aware the Turkish Government has made no attempt nor at any time had the intention to tax the property and real estate in America of these four brothers.

My own investigation not only substantiates the above statement of Mr. Apkarian, but, further, raises the doubt as to whether the Turkish Government has even any knowledge of the fact that these brothers own real estate in America. Mr. Apkarian further states that his relatives have probably misunderstood some of his letters to them.

The investigation of this matter involved to some extent the system of community taxation which applies to the military tax, but to that only.

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At the risk of making this report of greater length than the legation really-desired, I would respectfully submit the following facts relative to the imposition of a military tax upon Christian communities whose members are subjects of the Ottoman Empire.

All male Moslems between the ages of 20 and 40 and subjects of this Empire are liable to military services. From every 180 such persons 1 is annually called into active service.

From yearly reports showing the total amount of money expended in maintaining the army for that period the Government, a considerable number of years ago, estimated that the cost of each soldier per year was about 5,000 piasters. The Christian subjects are excused from service in the army upon payment of a military tax. As each group of 180 male Moslem subjects was annually required to furnish 1 recruit, so each group of 180 male Christian subjects was required to pay a total military tax of 5,000 piasters, i. e., the actual cost of 1 soldier per year.

The amount per capita for the individual members of this group increased from 27 to 37 piasters and is now 50. This increase was accompanied by the statement that the expenses of the army had likewise increased.

Let us suppose that the enumeration for the current year shows that there are 180 male Christians in the Harput community. The chief of this community is notified by the Government that the tax this year will be 9,000 piasters (180X50). The chief of the community then apportions this total military tax of 9,000 piasters among the members according to their financial ability. Some may be called on for 100 piasters, others for 50, others 20, and probably the names of some of the poorest members of the community will be omitted entirely from the list. The chief then hands the list to the government tax officials, who post it in some public place. Anyone feeling himself wronged, and who believe he is called upon to pay a larger amount than he can afford, has the right of appeal to the vali, who refers the matter to a commission to investigate and report.

These four brothers in America are subject to this military tax because their names have never been removed from the local tax roll. To effect such a removal application must be made by them to your legation through the Department of State.

The chief of the local Christian community doubtless thought that these four brothers could easily afford to pay a goodly share of the total military tax assessed against the community, and accordingly charged them with 100 piasters each in addition to their own 50 piasters. Should these brothers refuse to pay, this amount would then of necessity be thrown upon the other members of the community.

The system of community taxation as applied to the military tax has in it much to commend. The abuses would appear to arise more from the maladministration of local officials than through any inherent defects in the system itself.

In closing permit me to venture the suggestion that the unusually large amount imposed upon them by the chief of their community, perhaps due to their reputed ownership of real estate in America, has undoubtedly led them to make the statement that the Turkish Government has demanded a tax upon their real estate in Worcester.

I am, etc.,

Evan E. Young.