The Fiscal Regime of an Expanding State: Political Economy of Ottoman Taxation
An expanding state has to decide how to tax the newly conquered lands, most likely taxed under a different regime. It can either preserve the prevailing system of taxation or change it to conform to its own system. The choice depends on the relative efficiency of the two systems, political constraints, and the political legitimacy of the ruler (formulated here as his ability to collect the tax revenue). This paper examines the problem of how an expanding state would establish a fiscal regime by focusing on the tax system of the Ottoman Empire during its expansion between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. After outlining the general structure of the Ottoman system of taxation, it develops a simple theoretical framework to analyze the political economy of an expanding state's choice of a fiscal regime, applies this framework to the Ottoman Empire, and analyzes the interaction between tax rates and bases in a more specific context, namely the system of discriminatory taxation that the Ottomans inherited in the Fertile Crescent.
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