Canons of Taxation

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Adam Smith's Four Main Canons of Taxation ↓
A good tax system is one which is designed on the basis of an appropriate set of principles (rules). The tax system should strike a balance between the interest of the taxpayer and that of tax authorities. Adam Smith was the first economist to develop a list of Canons of Taxation. These canons are still regarded as characteristics or features of a good tax system. Adam Smith gave following four important canons of taxation. 1. Canon of Equity

The principle aims at providing economic and social justice to the people. According to this principle, every person should pay to the government depending upon his ability to pay. The rich class people should pay higher taxes to the government, because without the protection of the government authorities (Police, Defence, etc.) they could not have earned and enjoyed their income. Adam Smith argued that the taxes should be proportional to income, i.e., citizens should pay the taxes in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state. 2. Canon of Certainty

According to Adam Smith, the tax which an individual has to pay should be certain, not arbitrary. The tax payer should know in advance how much tax he has to pay, at what time he has to pay the tax, and in what form the tax is to be paid to the government. In other words, every tax should satisfy the canon of certainty. At the same time a good tax system also ensures that the government is also certain about the amount that will be collected by way of tax. 3. Canon of Convenience

The mode and timing of tax payment should be as far as possible, convenient to the tax payers. For example, land revenue is collected at time of harvest income tax is deducted at source. Convenient tax system will encourage people to pay tax and will increase tax revenue. 4. Canon of Economy

This principle states that there should be economy in tax administration. The cost of tax collection should be lower...
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