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Ayashulka - Six Types Of Tax In Arthashastra

Ayashulka is the state-levied taxes and duties. Aya means ‘state revenue’. The total system of state revenue accounting of income and expenditure is considered in Arthashastra of Kautilya written during 200 BCE. The executive entitled to collect the state taxes is called shulkadhyaksha (a state executive officer). It is a post of power and accountability.

Six types of shulka are listed by Kautilya –

  1. Bhaga – tax on agricultural production of food grains.
  2. Bali – regular tax payable to state for the services, protection, infrastructure provided and maintained by the state (this is also a type of religious tax paid to the state.
  3. Kara – taxes and duties related to trade and commercial production activities
  4. Vivita – road taxes like toll tax, entry tax.
  5. Rajju – land property tax
  6. Charajju – confiscations from thieves and erring traders.

The taxes were collected in the form of money as well as goods, produce and services. The percentage of tax goes up to a maximum of 25 percent. The office of shulkadhyaksha was located at the points of collection of revenue like the main entry to the city and the entry and exit points of the trading routes. The system of issuing a receipt detailing the amount of tax paid, the nature of the goods, the path of movement, and the name of the owner was in practice.