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title:“A Bill to Prevent the Misapplication of the Money Collected for Taxes”
authors:George Mason
date written:1779-11-27

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Mason, George. "Letter to Prevent the Misapplication of the Money Collected for Taxes." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 2. Ed. Robert A. Rutland. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 593-94. Print.
William Waller Hening, ed, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, 13 vols., Richmond, 1819-1823 X

A Bill to Prevent the Misapplication of the Money Collected for Taxes (November 27, 1779)

[27 November 1779]
WHEREAS great inconveniencies have arisen to the publick from the misapplication of the taxes collected by the sheriffs in several counties of this state, some of whom have applied the same to private purposes in speculative bargains for the emolument of themselves or their friends, thereby contributing to raise the prices of the necessaries of life, and to depreciate the paper currency in circulation, defeating the purposes of taxation, and hazarding the ruin of publick credit: And experience hath proved that the laws heretofore made, are insufficient to prevent or restrain so growing and dangerous an evil: Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That if any sheriff or collector shall hereafter appropriate to his own use, or otherwise misapply any publick money which shall be by him collected for taxes, he shall forfeit and pay double the sum so appropriated or misapplied, to be recovered with costs on bill, plaint, or information in any court of record within this commonwealth, one half to the informer, and the other half to the commonwealth, or the whole to the commonwealth if information is made by a publick officer. And every person receiving such publick money, knowing it to be such, and applying it to private purposes, shall in like manner forfeit double the sum so received, to be recovered as before directed. And for the more effectually preventing such pernicious practices in future, the commissioners of the taxes in their respective counties, or a majority of them, shall, upon information or suspicion of any such misapplication, call upon the sheriff or collector to make up an account of the money which he shall have collected, upon oath, and to demand of him that the money collected shall be produced and compared with the accounts so made up; and if any sheriff or collector of taxes shall fail to make up his accounts, or to produce to the commissioners when required, the taxes collected as aforesaid, within the space of one week after such demand, he shall forfeit and pay the sum of one hundred pounds for every week thereafter, until he shall comply with the demand of the said commissioners, who shall give information, either to the attorney general, or to the attorney for the commonwealth in the county, either of whom as the case may be, shall lodge a bill, plaint, or information against such sheriff or collector, at the next court having cognizance of the said offence, which he shall renew so often as the said sheriff or collector shall continue his said offence. And no commissioner of the tax shall hereafter be admitted as security for any sheriff or collector, nor shall any person who is or shall be security for a sheriff, be eligible as a commissioner of the tax. Whenever a bill, plaint, or information shall be lodged in any county court, under this act, the said court shall compel the defendant to plead immediately to issue, which issue they shall proceed to try at the very next court thereafter, before any other matter or thing whatsoever: And if the said bill, plaint, or information is made in the general court, they shall cause the issue to be made up and tried at the same time. And should any sheriff or collector, after such process hath been legally served on him, fail to appear and plead at the next court or term as the case may be, such court shall order the clerk to make an issue for him, and proceed to trial in like manner as herein above directed. And for the more effectually securing the payment of all taxes now due, or which shall hereafter be collected, and not accounted for and paid as the law directs, the auditors of publick accounts shall have power to move for judgments against all sheriffs and collectors of taxes, without any farther notice than this act, on the first days of the June and December general courts, and on the first Saturday in the March and October general courts; and the said courts shall take cognizance thereof at all or any of the said sessions, and give judgments accordingly, or for good cause may postpone the proceedings upon any such motion till a future day; and any judgment given on such motion shall carry twenty per centum interest, until the same shall be levied or discharged.

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