In Rhodes the rich aristocracy, who exclusively held political power, considered it a moral obligation to feed the poor of the city and they did so voluntarily. Nonetheless, assets and agricultural production were taxed in case the city didn’t have an other source of income.
Another important source of income to the city was indirect taxation. It was applied mostly in trade, and the tax rate was usually 2% (one fiftieth). In Athens in 400 B.C., after the Pelloponisian War, trade had stagnated. Yet, Athens taxed 9.000.000 drachmas. Plus the fees for using the port facilities. But that wasn’t always the case.
Delos in 230 B.C, on the same rate of 2% collected only 17.900 drachmas. Rhodes, before 166 B.C., according to Polibius’ work “Histories” collected nearly 1.000.000 drachmas from fees and taxation on the imported and exported goods.
An interesting example is the case of Delos. In 166 B.C, the Romans played a big part in Greek politics. Delos used to be under the patronage of the state of Macedonia, under which Delos managed to become a large and important port by taking advantage of its religious status. When Delos was conquered from the Macedonians and captured by the Romans, the Romans gave the island to Athens. Not only that, but most importantly made Delos a free port. No taxes or fees were to be collected in the port of Delos.
Although we do not have clear written evidence, archeology can give an image of what happened. The city got even richer. New buildings rose, and more space was made for the emporium…
Trade Commerce advanced a lot in ancient times. Among cities it became regular feature of daily life. At an earlier time in Greek history trade was occasional and sporadic. As the Greek states rose from regional into international powers, trade became faster and a larger part of the economy. Although traders were much less than the farmers, all farmers took on the role of occasional traders. Farmers would trade their goods themselves by land and sometimes by sea.