Taxation by Auction: Fund-Raising by 19th Century Indian Guilds
We describe a unique institution used by 19th century Indian guilds to raise funds: The guild members agreed that on a particular day all but one of their shops would be shut. An auction would be held to determine which one shop would remain open, and the winning bid would go to the guild funds. We compare this "taxation by auction" mechanism with more conventional tax schemes and show that under certain conditions, not only will a majority of the guild members prefer to be taxed via an auction, but that this form of taxation will be more equitable than other forms.
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