The chief sources of the general revenue fund are taxes on real and personal property, on liquors and cigarettes, on corporations and on inheritances; in 1909 the net receipts for this fund were $8,043,257, the disbursements $9,103,301, and the cash balance at the end of the fiscal year $3,428,705.
The rate on collateral inheritances is 5%, on direct inheritances 2%, on the excess above $3000.
The cost of maintaining the imperial postal system (vehiculatio) was transferred to the fiscus; from the same source apparently money was found for repairing the public roads and aqueducts; and lastly, the lucrative but unpopular tax of 5% on all legacies or inheritances (vicesima hereditatum), was so readjusted as to remove the grosser abuses connected with it (Pliny, Paneg.
In 1907 there were 34 such, and 19 of these were taxing direct inheritances as well.
Of the measures proposed to this end he says: "I considered four, passed or reported, as forming a system by which every trace would be eradicated of ancient or future aristocracy, and a foundation laid for a government truly republican" - the repeal of the laws of entail; the abolition of primogeniture and the unequal division of inheritances (Jefferson was himself an eldest son); the guarantee of freedom of conscience and relief of the people from supporting, by taxation, an established church; and a system of general education.
He eschewed the pomp and ceremonies, natural inheritances from English origins, that had been an innocent setting to the character of his two noble predecessors.
Viewed broadly, the financial resources of the earlier Empire were obtained from (1) the public land alike of the state and the Princeps; (2) the monopolies, principally of minerals; (3) the land tax; (4) the customs; (5) the taxes on inheritances, on sales and on the purchase of slaves (vectigalia).
An important act of his reign (212) was the bestowal of the rights of Roman citizenship upon all free inhabitants of the empire, although the main object of Caracalla was doubtless to increase the amount of revenue derived from the tax on inheritances or legacies to which only Roman citizens were liable.
But at the same time he devoted his energies to the improvement of the administration of the empire; he reformed the standard of coinage, fixed the price of provisions and other necessaries of daily life, remitted the tax upon inheritances and manumissions, abolished various monopolies, repressed corruption and encouraged trade.
The subordination of clerical to laic jurisdiction, the reduction in ecclesiastical possessions, the insisting on a translation of the Bible which could be read by the "common" man were all inheritances bequeathed by the Lollards.