Mithridates the Great was the leader of a small nation near what is currently known as Turkey. He had the extraordinary ability to rouse discontent among unhappy taxpayers. In 88 BC he led a rebellion fighting the Romans. By granting 5 years of tax exemption to each city that joined his army, he mustered substantial help.
The Roman Senate quickly took swift action and appointed General Sulla to muster an army and re-establish Roman rule in the east. Sulla was victorious in suppressing the rebellion after a 4-year war. When the revolt was crushed, Sulla told the leading citizens of the disgruntled cities to come to Ephesus. At that place the citizens were to denounce the 5 years of back taxes and pay Sulla for the cost of the war.
To enforce this tax, Sulla created “special agents.” These special agents were given the ability to scourge and behead, which was enough to make any taxpayer cooperative. Until this period there had been self-assessment tax collections, private tax collecting, military tax collectors and regular government tax collectors. But these newly instituted “special agents” were highly skilled specialized men with the arrogance of bureaucrats and the power of military executioners. Taxpayers lost all inclination to evade. If you are feeling the pressure with today’s taxes, call a Tax Preparer in Cary, NC for all your tax-related needs!
Special Agents have emerged several times in the past, surviving in modern times as “financial police” or simply “special agents”, given the title initially given by Sulla over two thousand years ago. As the use of the general’s special agents was instituted in neighboring provinces, soldiers came to realize that the rich spoils of war came from their general, not the Roman Senate. Roman generals returned to Rome with the unwavering loyalty of their soldiers. Huge civil wars broke out as rivalling armies slaughtered each other. With these semiprivate armies, the institution of a military dictator was inescapable. Thus, the Roman Republic died. Royalty, dictators, and generals would now rule for the next 2000 years. Democratically designed governments and republics would not see a large role in civilization again until the 1800s. Go here if you want help with modern-day Tax Preparation in Raleigh, NC.
Keep an eye out for W. Marc Gilfillan’s next chapter in his History of Taxes series: Taxes and the American Revolution.