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What I Learned about Taxes from Revolutionary Paris

054April, our traditional tax month

I spent one full weekend pulling all my information together just so I could hand it over to the CPA and they could fill out some forms (and then charge me $850). Now I don’t expect you to feel sorry for me but I really did spend all my time compiling information that weekend (from when I got up in the morning until I went to bed). You see, I have four tax entities to prepare (Stew & Sandy, Southeast Business Forums, Yooper Publications, and our HOA).

As I’m sitting at the dining room table doing all of this, I got to thinking about France, the three estates, and the French tax situation back in 1789. I decided I was part of the 99% known as the Third Estate. The other two estates—the clergy and the nobility—did not pay any taxes. Now I’m certainly not part of the clergy. And although I do own land (that was one of the prerequisites for being a noble), I still live from paycheck to paycheck. So that really does eliminate me from the nobility class.

So I guess I’m just a poor peasant or a member of the Third Estate

I suppose the kings figured out the clergy (or the first Estate) were non-profits even back then. I think it may also have been they didn’t want to get on the bad side of the pope. But the real reason for the clergy not paying taxes was the fact that they did perform necessary services for the folks in their respective parishes and therefore took that burden off the monarch’s shoulders (and treasury).

Now the nobility on the other hand, didn’t pay taxes because they were expected to bear arms and join the king whenever he declared war on someone. This was the quid-pro-quo of the day. That may have worked in medieval France, but by 1789 the king couldn’t afford to go to war. The days of the Crusades were over and all the Third Estate saw were the nobility prancing around in their fancy clothes, fast carriages, and going to endless parties.

The other thing the Third Estate knew was the tax burden was theirs to bear alone. The folks who could least afford it ended up having to pay up. Now I’m the last person who supports the idea of redistribution of wealth. However in this situation, I’d say back then, there was an equality problem.

Third-world Country

I define a third-world country as one where 1% of the population has the wealth and 99% of the population doesn’t. Well, that sums up France in 1789. We wonder why there was a Revolution started in 1789.

Too bad it got really nasty there for a while. Did the means justify the end?

Do we have a lot of stories? Of course we do. I’m looking forward to sharing these with you. Please continue to visit our blog and perhaps subscribe so that you don’t miss out on the most recent blog posts.

Thanks so much for following my blog and my little journey through this incredibly interesting process of writing a series of niche historical travel books and then getting the bloody things published.

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Please note that I do not and will not take compensation from individuals or companies I mention or promote in my blog.

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