November 18, 2009

A Lesson in Taxation, Chapter Four: Tax Law and The Isle of Rhodes

W. Marc Gilfillan

W. Marc Gilfillan, CPA, NC, individual and business CPA and Tax expert, shares about the history of taxes…

The island of Rhodes: a linking to Rome and Greece. Any shipped goods from the east stopped for restocking or to switch cargo at Rhodes. The harbor at Rhodes, like every other harbor, had a tax on all transaction - 2%. Rhodes was prosperous and flourished, in the banking and commerce industry especially. The wealthy men erected a hundred-foot-tall bronze colossus of Apollo at the entrance to the port. It became known to us as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world (whether it actually straddled the harbor entrance is unknown). If you’re feeling the pressure with today’s taxes, call a Cary NC CPA for all your tax-related needs!

Rhodes was fine until 225 BC. An earthquake caused the statue to fall and not very much is heard from Rhodes after that. Did the earthquake wipe them out? Decimate the harbor? Well, this is the remainder of the story. The Roman Senate was angered at Rhodes due to the fact that during the late Rome-Macedonia War, Rhodes had maintained a neutral state. After taking so much from Rome for so many years, Rome expected more. They wanted Rhodes to side with them and help with the war effort. Because of this, after the war, the Romans chose their move. They established a tax-free port on the nearby Isle of Delos. There was no 2% harbor tax! In the first year since the port was established, trade declined eighty-five percent in Rhodes. Rhodes was in ruin. Go here if you want help with modern-day Tax Preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll in Cary NC.

Did the earthquake do it? The answer is no, Rhodes had since rebuilt after the disaster (however, they did not replace the statue). What brought Rhodes down was no earthquake or natural disaster or war or famine. It was Roman taxes. All to avoid a 2% tax. The Switzerland of the ancient world, the commercial giant of the east was brought down because people wanted to avoid a 2% tax.

Keep an eye out for W. Marc Gilfillan’s next chapter in his History of Taxes series: Roman Taxes.

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