Log in to access the full article.
The establishment of a government bureaucracy to collect taxes is regarded as one of the essential features of a modern economy. While Britain is considered a pioneer, France has been treated as a laggard because of continued reliance on tax farming. Focusing on the largest tax farm, France’s late transition from private to government tax collection is explained in a principal-agent context by the difficulties of monitoring employees and borrowing at low cost in the capital market. Tax farmers continued to earn high returns, absorbing the risk of fluctuating collections, leaving the Crown with lower revenue.