The Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Boutros ) to the American Minister ( Howell )2

No. 48.2/1 (2572)

Mr. Minister: Permit me to remind you that the Gaffir Tax was established by a Decree of November 10, 1884, and that the Egyptian Government has always considered this tax as applicable to foreign citizens, as it constitutes a police law for the security of land owners, and as a complement of the land tax to which foreigners are subject.

However, certain Consular Authorities have raised objections against this interpretation and the question had not been definitely settled when by the Proclamation of September 23, 1915, of the British Military Authorities, the payment of the Gaffir Tax was declared obligatory for all persons residing in Egypt of whatever nationality they might be.

Now the effect of the Proclamation of September 23, 1915, having ended, the question is in the same state it formerly was, that is to say, that it gives occasion for a divergence of views between the Egyptian authorities and the Representatives of Foreign Countries, and under these conditions it becomes necessary to avoid all controversy on this subject in the future.

I should state that the Gaffir Service is of a general utility character, since its aim is essentially to guarantee the security of real estate for the benefit of all the inhabitants of the country without distinction, and, moreover, that it can only function efficiently if sufficient resources are obtained by the participation of all persons who profit by it. It would then be quite unjust that one category of beneficiaries be able to avoid their duty of paying the tax above mentioned, and the Egyptian Government is right in expecting that Capitulatory citizens continue to pay this tax as they have already done for many years.

Consequently I have the honor to transmit herewith the text of a Decree rendered February 16th, last,3 on the subject of the payment of Gaffir Tax throughout the whole territory of Egypt, and I have recourse to your kind intervention with your Government to the end that it kindly give its assent to the provisions of this Decree in respect of American citizens, from the date above mentioned.

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In the hope that the American Government will appreciate the reason for this service and the justice which prompts the present request of the Egyptian Government, and thanking you in advance for your co-operation in this respect, I seize this occasion to renew to you, Mr. Minister, the assurance of my high consideration.

Wacyf Boutros Ghali
  1. Transmitted by the Minister in Egypt as an enclosure to his despatch no. 470, Mar. 21; received Apr. 9.
  2. Not printed.