From privatized to government-administered tax collection: Tax farming in eighteenth-century France

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Abstract

The establishment of a government bureaucracy to collect taxes is regarded as one of the essential features of a modern economy. While Britain is considered a pioneer, France has been treated as a laggard because of continued reliance on tax farming. Focusing on the largest tax farm, France's late transition from private to government tax collection is explained in a principal-agent context by the difficulties of monitoring employees and borrowing at low cost in the capital market. Tax farmers continued to earn high returns, absorbing the risk of fluctuating collections, leaving the Crown with lower revenue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)636-663
Number of pages28
JournalEconomic History Review
Volume57
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Economics and Econometrics

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