Taxation Of Chicago Banks -- By: Z. Swift Holbrook

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 055:219 (Jul 1898)
Article: Taxation Of Chicago Banks
Author: Z. Swift Holbrook

Taxation Of Chicago Banks

Z. Swift Holbrook

The Act of Congress creating national banks is explicit as to how such banks shall be taxed in their respective states. This is its language: “The Legislature of each state may determine and direct the manner and place of taxing all the shares of national banking associations located within the state, subject only to two restrictions, that the taxation shall not be at a greater rate than is assessed upon other moneyed capital in the hands of individuals citizens of such state, and that the shares of any national banking association owned by non-residents of any state shall be taxed in the city or town where the bank is located, and not elsewhere. Nothing herein shall be construed to exempt the real property of associations from either state, county, or municipal taxes, to the same extent, according to its value, as other real property is taxed.”1

The statutes of the state of Illinois echo the federal statute, for they expressly provide: “The taxation of such shares [of bank stock] shall not be at a greater rate than is assessed upon any other moneyed capital in the hands of individual citizens of the state, in the county, town, district, village, or city where such bank is located.”2 Chicago’s largest banks are in what is known as the South

Town, and the assessor elected for this town in 1897 was one who, before he was elected assessor, had been twice under indictment for alleged offenses,—once for illegal voting, and once for running a bucket shop.

No sooner had he been elected, than a large number of middlemen, or go-betweens so-called, began soliciting merchants, banks, and business men to have their taxes reduced by paying bribes. Many large and reputable firms and corporations acted in accordance with their usual practice, and bought justice with injustice, thinking such an exchange no robbery. Many bribed their assessments down to a point far below justice, some not being found on the tax list at all, while thousands yielded for the first time to temptation, being afraid of the assessor and his almost unlimited power to destroy. Some refused to bend the knee to this uncrowned king, and suffered for their temerity. Among these were some of the largest and most honorable banks in Chicago. The assessment of the banks was as follows :—

National and State Banks—Comparative Table of Assessments, national banks.

Total Value


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