(Having said that traditionally native governments can get away with more taxes than foreign ones)
I mentioned this much earlier in the thread, but there’s a story which Napoleon supposedly dictated to Montholon during his captivity at St. Helena about a French officer and a Corsican peasant shortly after the conquest. The officer complains to the peasant about the ingratitude of his fellow Corsicans and lists all the good things the French administration had done since the conquest of the isle, adding that under Paoli, the Corsicans paid twice as much in tax as they presently did under France. "Very true, seigneur," replied the peasant, "but then we gave, now you take."
This fundamentally is why native governments can get away with more taxes; people can see their tax dollars at work, unlike a colony or distant territory that pays money to a distant land but sees nothing in return (even if they actually are getting a net benefit from the deal). In the Genoa/Corsica case, I wouldn’t be surprised if Corsica was keeping only about a third of the tax money it was paying to the Genoese (I’m not Carp! Don’t quote me on this!), meaning that even relatively modest taxes by Theodore are probably going to see a significant improvement for the Corsicans.
Actually, Corsica being a predominately agricultural country with not much opportunity for industry, I suspect that Theodore is going to attempt to keep tariffs low and raise the bulk of the revenue on taxes in kind on agricultural products.
How much money the Genoese kept in Corsica depends on how you define “Corsica” and “kept.” No doubt the citizens of Bastia benefited from Genoese development and capital improvements, and some attention was paid to agriculture in Capo Corso and the northern fringe of the island. Bastia was basically a Genoese settler colony, however, and many of its native-born citizens - like Spinola himself - considered themselves fully Genoese. The interior Corsicans saw very little of this largesse. While there are a number of Genoese stone bridges in the interior (like Ponte Novu), these were designed primarily to facilitate the movement of armies through the major valley corridors, and the French found the infrastructure to be so poor that they built their own roads during the first intervention.
Much of the government's budget in Corsica, even in peacetime, went to what we would broadly call “law enforcement” - the maintenance of the army, gendarmes, and paramilitaries (the dragoons, provincial troops, etc.), and the administrative apparatus of justice. If you live in Bastia, you were probably grateful for these things and saw them as being for your protection; the army protects you from the rebellious highlanders and the occasional Barbary raid, while the gendarmes deal with petty criminals and bandits. But the interior Corsicans perceived the law enforcement apparatus of Genoa not as their shield, but as a weapon pointed at them. Soldiers marched in to enforce the levies of the tax collectors or the sentences of the judges. They confiscated your property if you couldn’t pay your tax, and dragged away men from your community accused of illegal fishing, petty theft, or feuding, and sentenced them to years of miserable slavery in the galleys. When your only interaction with your government is through tax collectors and predatory law enforcement, you’re not likely to see your taxes as a patriotic duty.
Foreign governments always had trouble squeezing money out of Corsica. That French officer in the anecdote above was telling the truth, or something close to it - taxes were relatively low under the Ancien Régime. It was estimated that the annual tax revenue from Corsica was 600,000 livres, which was less than the annual cost of administration, to say nothing of paying back the cost of the conquest itself which was somewhere in the ballpark of 20 to 30 million livres. The National Assembly abolished the old system of taxation in 1789, but when the French re-imposed taxes on Corsica in 1791 the rate was twice as high as what the Ancien Régime had demanded. The Corsicans simply didn’t pay it. When the British subsequently occupied the island (1794-96), they fared little better, and were continually exasperated by their failed attempts to get the Corsicans to pay for their own defense.
A large part of the problem was administration. Most Corsicans lived in small, isolated villages in inland valleys, which made administrative schemes difficult to put into effect. The French taxation scheme of 1791 was based on property, but which Frenchman was going to go hike into the hills of the Castagniccia and tally up the monetary value of small farms and orchards, or survey the Niolesi shepherds as to how many goats they owned? The Corsican communes closed ranks and made no effort to cooperate with the government’s assessments, and the French government had neither the time nor the resources to force them.
In theory, Theodore will benefit from the good will of the population; his government is Corsica’s government, and nothing is going to be siphoned off to a foreign capital. He has some personal indulgences (particularly a love for Rhenish wine) and likes to be well-dressed, but he’s used to living in (relative) poverty and is not the sort of person to bankrupt the state by trying to build his own mini-Versailles or something. His motivation is fame, not wealth. Furthermore, the constitution of 1736 explicitly states that the king cannot conduct the “imposition of taxes” without the consent of the Diet, a proviso that is unlikely to be limiting (as the King currently appoints the Diet’s members himself) but gives any taxation an added veneer of legitimacy, as it will have the approval of Corsica’s most prominent men.
As for the types of taxes, taxation under the Genoese consisted primarily of capitations (taxes on every household and/or person, like the taglia and due seini), duties on state-monopolized goods like salt, and various feudal duties and license fees (for firearms, for instance, before they were banned altogether). The irony of the Corsicans rejecting the taglia is that it was written into their own royalist constitution in 1736, which specifically states that “the annual contribution or taxation paid by the Corsicans shall not exceed three lire per head of the family and that the half-taglia usually paid by widows and orphans up to 14 years of age should be abolished.” In other words, the problem the consulta had with the taglia was not that it existed, but that it was too high, and that it was unfair for it to be levied upon widows and young orphans even at the customary half-rate. A salt tax, too, was admitted by the constitution, which limited it to “2 seini, or 13 solidi and 4 denari a bushel.”
It's interesting to note that the due seini itself, the tax that started the revolution, is a pretty small amount of money. Although a lot of English-language sources claim that the due seini ("two sixes") referred to twelve scudi, that's plainly impossible. Twelve scudi equates to 96 lire per hearth per annum, which in a population of ~27,000 households would be 2.6 million lire, an insanely large amount that could easily run the government of Corsica for years (remember, the Genoese complained that the occupation cost them 800,000 lire annually). In fact the due seini appears to have been a reference to a 1/3-lira silver coin called the terzo di madonnina which was colloquially referred to as a seino (“six”) at the time, for reasons I'm not really sure of. The actual due seini thus amounted not to 96 lire, but ⅔ of one lira (=160 denari) from each household annually, or 18,000 lire per annum, but even that must have been much higher than the actual collected amount because only the interior Corsicans paid the due seini, not the Genoese citizens of the coastal cities. By comparison, the 1736 constitution limited the capitation to three lire annually (again, paid by household), which amounts to just over 80,000 lire per annum. I don't know the amount of the pre-revolution taglia, but if the consulta saw fit to limit it to three lire in the constitution it seems safe to assume that it was higher than three. Obviously the taglia, not the due seini, must have made up the bulk of the capitation tax paid to Genoa; the due seini was just the straw that broke the camel's back.
As for the salt tax, in the late 18th century it was estimated in Britain that the average person consumed 25 lbs of salt per annum, or 11.34kg. The 1736 constitution set a bushel of salt at 22 lbs, which as far as I can tell in the Genoese system of measurement at the time was about 6.82kg. That amounts to about 1.36 million kg of salt per annum or almost exactly 200,000 Corsican bushels at a maximum tax rate of 133,333 lire per annum. That’s probably much too high, however, as it assumes that the rather poor Corsicans have the same salt intake as Englishmen, even though salt intake varies considerably between cultures (in modern times, the average Kazakhstani consumes nearly five times as much salt as the average Kenyan), and doesn't count any imported salt or salted foodstuffs. Furthermore, because people could (and did) flaunt the law and make their own salt - they are on an island in a saltwater sea, after all - enforcement will be much harder and compliance will be much lower with the salt tax than with the taglia.
Because of geographic and administrative hurdles, the best taxes for Corsica are going to be those that are easy to collect. Undoubtedly that’s why the Genoese favored a capitation - say what you will about the fairness of a poll-tax, but it has the advantage of being relatively simple to administer so long as you have a list of all households. Taxes on income or property, as Revolutionary France tried to implement, are hard to collect because you need a whole bureaucracy to keep track of the value of what people own and/or what their income is, which Corsica doesn’t have and can’t afford. In addition, the pre-feudal nature of Corsican society is such that a substantial amount of property is held in common or merely “used” rather than owned. Who owns the village’s chestnut trees, and how much are they worth? Should Niolesi shepherds pay land tax on their seasonal fields that they customarily graze their livestock on every winter?
Thus, the taglia is likely to stick around post-independence, and despite its unpopularity the salt tax is likely to remain as well, as a levy on salt was a common source of 18th century government revenue and Corsica doesn’t have a huge array of other options. A land tax is one possibility, although as mentioned the pre-feudal and customary nature of land ownership in the interior complicate the situation. Another likely source of revenue is excise duty, or a tax on production. All the olive oil of Corsica, for instance, is produced at just a handful of commercial-scale presses, which means that the administrative overhead for collecting an oil excise is minimal - you don’t need to inspect olive groves or warehouses, you just need to have an excise agent at the press where the oil is made.
Tariffs will probably not be very important. In the first place, free ports are a cornerstone of Theodore’s economic plan for Corsica. Although “free ports” varied in their actual level of “freedom” in the 18th century, in general they had some assortment of lower duties, less restrictive customs regimes, tax-free warehouses, and more openness towards foreign merchants. Theodore is something of a free-marketeer; he hopes that by throwing the doors open he can attract trade and settlement, and that this will make Corsica prosperous in the long run even at the cost of customs revenue in the short term. Even if he wanted them, however, tariffs would be hard to enforce. The Corsicans and Livornesi have become rather good at smuggling things in and out of Corsica over the last decade, and while Corsica will eventually have a small navy it will be difficult for them to closely patrol the whole coastline (just as it’s difficult for the Genoese now). Still, some tariffs are likely, for instance an export duty on timber; Corsica’s forest land was a major economic and strategic asset, and timber is a difficult commodity to smuggle.
Wonderful and very well researched. Description of historical personalities and their adaptation to this TL by you is quite awesome. Can you please write a short character introduction of the Corsican rebels.
Thank you! By "short character introduction," do you mean like the pieces I did on Andrea Ceccaldi and Luca d'Ornano? I can certainly do a few more of those, although a lot of characters in this story - while historical - don't have a lot of recorded information about them.