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disposition. There never was anything even suggesting frivolity in his nature, and yet, on the other hand, there never was anything suggesting a grouch.
Judge Howe, I think perhaps, got his title of "Judge," from his judicial aspect; the way that he met people, and the way he handled problems that came to him for solution. There isn't a man, I am sure, in the State of Kansas that has the ability of Judge Howe to handle matters in connection with the administration of the tax laws of the state. The Kansas Tax Commission, I believe, has been frequently referred to as a model tax commission. Whatever superior aspects the commission may have are due entirely to Judge Howe's ability as an organizer and as an administrative officer. He took charge of the work at the time when the tax commission was first created, in 1907. He organized the force and was entirely responsible for all of the work of the commission.
His death, in my judgment, is a distinct loss to everybody in the United States who is interested in tax reform, and we people who were associated with him in that field feel very keenly the loss of his valuable counsel; in addition to that, we feel that we have lost a true, real, genuine friend.
GEORGE VAUGHAN of Arkansas: Gentlemen of the association: I feel constrained to add a few words of appreciation, as one of Judge Howe's friends, living in a neighboring state. In this connection I am reminded of the benefit we receive from our association together in an organization of this kind. It is not altogether of an intellectual nature, or as a training for the mind, but also as training for the heart.
In the ten years that I have been connected with this association I have made some fast friends; I have met men whom I have learned to admire, not particularly for what they told me, but for their conduct and their careers as exemplified by their walk before my eyes. Somebody has said that "duty" is the sublimest word in the English language, and I think of that word as most fitting in connection with Judge Howe. Those of us who knew him, know that his talents and his qualities of mind were of a very superior nature. They would have enabled him to have attained great pecuniary success in any calling that might have won his affection, but instead of devoting himself to the accumulation of wealth, he preferred to discharge public duty to the commonwealth, and by qualifying himself and giving his service lavishly in that direction, he has left a monument greater than any wealth that could have been counted in dollars. Someone has written lines that run like this:
"Life is a leaf of paper white,
On which each one of us may write
His word or two,
And then comes night."
Judge Howe has left a record that it is easy for us, as tax men, to read and one which it behooves us all to emulate.
C. P. LINK of Colorado: As another neighbor of Judge Howe on the West, I simply want to add my little tribute. It was my splendid fortune to know Judge Howe as an official and then as a friend. As an official his career has been well covered; let it be said that no more able, fearless, and loyal official or citizen ever lived. As a friend, no truer ever lived. As a helper to those of us in the West, we shall never again have his equal.
As has been stated, Kansas was one of the first to get a real centralized tax body. For the entire life of that Kansas Tax Commission, with Judge Howe at its head, the entire West had a close and splendid friend and helper. He was a real man.
CHAIRMAN LORD: There are on the program certain topics suggested for future work of the association.
CHARLES J. TOBIN of New York: I should like to make a motion that when this conference adjourns, it adjourn out of respect to Judge Howe; to express its appreciation of the work that Judge Howe accomplished for the National Tax Association and for the various conferences that have been held; and also out of regard for the memory of a real man.
CHAIRMAN LORD: I think the chair will entertain this motion, and we will declare it adopted without a formal vote. I know it is the sense of everyone here present.
We have a little time now at our disposal before the hour of adjournment, to consider a few things on the program-methods of securing greater uniformity in taxation among states. anyone here who desires to be heard upon that topic?
CHAIRMAN LORD: Gasoline and motor vehicle taxation; are there any suggestions in regard to that, looking to the future?
JOHN E. BRINDLEY: I haven't any suggestions to make, but I have two questions to ask. That is a problem with us just now. One question is where a state has heavy motor vehicle taxation on cars, is it advisable to add an additional tax on gasoline as a supplementary tax? If there are any opinions on that question, I should appreciate them.
C. P. LINK of Colorado: That question is of vital importance in all states. In working with the businessmen's committee of Colorado during the last few months, we have found it vital. My feeling is that automobiles should be taxed upon a property valuation, like real estate and other tangible personal property, and that in addition they should pay a substantial license tax, as vehicles, and,
of course, that the gasoline tax is proper and I might add that Colorado has a one-cent-a-gallon tax. The motor vehicle users should pay that tax, the same as other vehicle users.
Automobiles represent tax-paying ability, and a vehicle license is a splendid tax. I am generally opposed to special small taxes, but I regard the automobile vehicle license tax as a marked exception, particularly in view of the fact that it is paid by an instrument that uses and wears out roads and that the funds go directly into good road programs.
J. E. WALKER of Montana: We have a gasoline tax in the state of Montana, and we feel that the justice of this tax is particularly due to the fact that we are a very large state. We have thousands and thousands of miles of roads, and we haven't very much revenue to keep them up. We feel that the justice of the gasoline tax is that to a great extent those who wear out our roads-dig them up are helping to pay to keep them in repair.
Our state is 750 miles east to west, and about 450 miles north and south, and we only have about as many people as you have here in Minneapolis, and an assessed valuation of half a billion dollars, so you see that we are short on people and short on finances, but we are long on roads, and we have to get some method of keeping them going.
MR. LINK: I overlooked an important point; we found, upon careful examination, that you cannot possibly get a license tax high enough to take the place of the property tax. For instance, in Denver, Colorado Springs, and in our average towns and cities, the rates are running from thirty to forty mills, which means that a car assessed at $2,000 would pay from $60 to $80 a year. When we came to talk about automobiles, the first idea was to get a license tax high enough to take that up, but we never in the world can tolerate a license tax that will equal the total we are getting from a property and license tax combined.
WILLIAM BAILEY of Utah: I am afraid that if we are not careful we will carry this thing to extremes. After going into the matter very thoroughly in my state with Dr. Bullock last month and getting statistics throughout the state, we find that this question of the ad valorem tax is more or less of a farce. It varies materially in different counties where they are assessing this property, so that it appears to me that you can reach the automobile for all that it ought to pay in the license tax and the gasoline tax.
The automobile association of Salt Lake City came in with a lot of statistics and made the statement that a tax on gasoline would not raise the price of gasoline, because, as they claimed, the oil, companies get out of the community all that they possibly can anyway-all the traffic will stand, and they really, to a greater or less
extent, will absorb the tax. It is a pretty hard matter to value an automobile. Men buy automobiles on time, and after the owner has run around the city on the hard roads and out in the country a year or two, to judge what a machine is worth takes a pretty good man. Strange as it may seem, in my state they average from $150 in some counties to $750 in others. An ordinary county assessor, in the Western states at least, unless he is more intelligent than ours, cannot value an automobile, and therefore it appears to me that to apply a tax to gasoline is more just than to try to apply the ad valorem tax to the automobile.
If you have all three, it seems to me that you are just a little bit overdoing it. I think, my friends, on this question of taxation, that we must go along carefully, and not endeavor to get out of any class of property every dollar you can extract. We want to be just in these things.
The reason I am kicking against Link is because I know him so well, and know that he won't take offense. Before you apply the three taxes, you must first ascertain what an automobile can pay and what is fair, and then you might divide that amount among the three taxes if you want to, but it appears to me that the better plan is to use the license and the gasoline tax.
HARRY P. SNEED of Louisiana: After a steady experience in endeavoring to collect ad valorem taxes on automobiles, since the machine was first invented, I am thoroughly of the opinion that Mr. Bailey has expressed; that an ad valorem tax on the autobile is undesirable, because of the difficulty and, in many cases, the impossibility of collection. There have been formed lately numbers of loaning companies who loan money on chattel mortgages on automobiles. A young chap will amass about $60 of perfectly negotiable currency and possess himself of a Ford, in time to have it listed on the assessment roll. Before those taxes mature, he will have failed to make the succeeding payments, and that Ford will have been taken over by the money-lending company, and the tax still lies against the man who bought the Ford, with no means in the world of collecting the $1.80 tax that he owes on it. It has been my experience that the expense of collection of ad valorem taxes on automobiles is very much greater than the amount of taxes collected. To make up for that loss of the ad valorem taxes, of course either a gasoline tax or an increased license should be demanded. I prefer the license, because it seems to me that better statistics and better records for the laying of that tax can be gathered and kept than for laying a tax upon gasoline.
THOMAS S. ADAMS: I want to ask the gentlemen representing the states in which a gasoline tax is applied if this tax applies to gasoline sold for farm tractors or similar purposes.
MR. LINK: It does not in Colorado, Dr. Adams; I am sure farm tractors are excepted. The tax is designed to cover the gasoline consumed by road vehicles only.
DR. ADAMS: It applies to trucks, though, as well as automobiles? MR. LINK: Yes, sir.
DR. ADAMS: But in these other states I understand it does apply to automobiles sold for farm tractors.
O. CARLSTROM of Illinois: I should hate to have any more taxes imposed on us in Illinois, in the matter of automobiles. We have a license tax of eight, twelve, twenty and twenty-five dollars, based upon horsepower; eight dollars annually for a machine where the horsepower is not in excess of 25; $12 for 25 to 35; $20 for 35 to 50, and $25 over 50 horsepower. There is a special provision for truck licenses. In addition to the license fee, which realizes for the state of Illinois approximately $7,000,000, we are taxed on the ad valorem basis, at whatever value they determine the automobile to be worth. I realize that it is a difficult matter to determine the valuation of a secondhand automobile or a used automobile, but if a tax on gasoline were imposed on top of that, it would seem to us in Illinois who own cars to be rather unfair. I challenge the statement that the pleasure vehicle is the vehicle that wears the roads to pieces. The vehicle that uses up the roads is the heavy truck and the passenger vehicle operated for profit. This point involves the question of whether transportation may not have to be taxed in connection with the expense of repairing and building roads. We require street railway companies and railroad companies to build and maintain their own separate rights-of-way; to fence and otherwise improve and repair their roadways, yet the taxpayer builds a roadway, permanent and stable, over which vehicles carrying freight and passengers may be operated for profit without cost. That sort of a machine, it seems to me, operated for profit, upon highways built at public expense, should be made to bear its reasonable, relative proportion of the cost of the maintenance of those roads, so that it would be put on a fair basis, in competition with other transportation methods. Our experience in Illinois, with a $60,000,000 bond issue for roads, running over a period of twenty years, is that the automobile license fees will pay that and pay another $60,000,000-at least $40,000,000 more in the twenty years. So we feel that the pleasure vehicles of Illinois are being taxed about all they should be taxed. I don't think it is the pleasure vehicle that wears out the roads; it is the truck and the passenger car operated for profit.
OSCAR LESER of Maryland: At the first session there was a paper on legislation of 1922, which omitted to refer to the fact that in