Relationship Between Rome And The Roman Economy

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The Roman Provinces’ Relationship to the Roman Economy
Background
N.S. Gill writes that Rome’s provincial system came into play, following their expansion beyond, as she puts it, “the Italian boot” (para. 1), and referring first to the islands of Sicily in 241 BCE, followed by Sardinia and Corsica in 238 BCE. At the end of the second Punic war (205 BCE), Rome’s next major portfolio “acquisition” was Spain. In all, Gill lists thirty-two Roman colonies. I was curious why she listed a date range for some provinces, such as Spain (205-19 BCE). Afforded the time, further research would explain why. The provinces greatly affected the Roman economy. The provinces provided raw materials and commodities, filled its military ranks and generated tax revenue
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By this time, Rome had been taxing Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica for almost seventy-five years, and had been growing its Spanish tax base for close to forty (Gill, n.d.). W.T. Arnold writes that the provinces made up the largest majority of taxpayers to Rome, and goes on to talk about a shift from how Rome once required an indemnity from those they conquered, such as from Carthage, to what he calls a permanent indemnity (1906).
As was the case in many aspects of the Ancient Roman Empire and Republic government, there appears to have been a great deal of corruption within the tax system. William Alden (2010), writing for the Huffington Post describes ancient Rome’s taxation as, “2,000-year-old tradition that, from its very start, has been tainted by abuse” (para. 1). He goes on to talk about Roman “Tax farming”, a model where private interests, known as publicani, purchased the rights to collect taxes, by paying Rome the estimated tax due in advance. Alden equates Rome’s publicani to modern day banking conglomerates such as JPMorgan Chase who have moved into the property tax collection game. He compares the publicani’s unchecked authority to extract tax revenue form provincial citizens, to that of today’s tax farms, who “Intentionally hide information” (para. 8) and use aggressive tactics to collect
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UNRV makes the case that in the long run, Augustus’ fixed payment tax model reduced tax revenue because over-taxation was no longer possible. Based on Gill’s ancient Roman province list, it appears Rome was busy adding new provinces through the acquisition of Mesopotamia and Assyria in 115 CE (n.d.). The lack of adding new provinces after this time must have further slowed tax revenue growth. As time progressed, add-on taxes were established, and even within Italy itself, land taxes on Romans living on the Italian peninsula were reintroduced by Diocletian towards the end of the third century CE (White,

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