Medieval Historian: Low Taxes WorkHistorians in the News
tags: taxes, medieval history, Ronald Regan
Ibn Khaldun isn’t exactly a household name—but he should be. Fascinatingly, one great American president was a big fan of Khaldun: Ronald Reagan. “The Gipper” quoted him throughout his Presidency no less than 10 times.
A medieval historian from modern-day Tunisia, Khaldun wrote “The Muqaddimah” in the 14th century. The work was a monumental, “universal” history—an attempt to synthesize all known history from an Islamic perspective and elucidate lessons he hoped would benefit Islamic civilization.
On Low Taxes
What he said about taxes is particularly interesting. In short, Khaldun believed that low taxes helped build civilization, and high taxes helped destroy civilization. Not only that, but he observed that lower taxes tended to bring in more revenue, while higher taxes tended to bring in less revenue.
Khaldun summarized his position on taxes in “The Muqaddimah” as follows: “It should be known that at the beginning of a dynasty, taxation yields a large revenue from small assessments. At the end of the dynasty, taxation yields a small revenue from large assessments.”
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