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Fed up of paying too much tax? It's hardly surprising, people around the world have been disillusioned with tax for millennia. The guide takes a look at Tax through history and provides example tax types and tax rates seen throughout the ages.
In the UK, the taxation system has developed and matured in line with the monarchy. In present day UK, tax types and tax rates are set by the government, historically the tax types and rates were set and controlled by the monarchy.
The diversity of the UK monarchy over the centuries (German, Welsh, French, Nordic with a touch of Anglo...) has resulted in a number of tax laws and tax systems that were tried and tested further afield, William the conquerors' Danegeld (Land Tax) being a good example. Land Tax has been a favourite taxation system through the years, in earlier days it was easier administratively to impose a tax on land than is was any other medium. Quantifying land ownership was relatively simple, calculating earnings was difficult and the infrastructure required to support an income tax system simply didn't exist. Land taxes remain to date but most countries now utilise earnings based taxation in favour of asset based taxation. Earnings based and transactional taxes are very easy to monitor now due to technology, software and taxation systems.
In the modern world, there are a number of initiatives to make tax less taxing as simple easy to understand tax laws and simplified tax calculations and online tax calculators make businesses more effective and efficient in the way they handle and process tax payments. This is in direct contrast to the tax collectors of history where transparency of tax law and tax collection was not a shared goal, in fact tax was seen as Daylight Robbery.
The term daylight robbery is believed to have originated from the window tax as it was described as a tax on light.
|Æthelberht of Kent||560 - 616||The first Tax? Certainly not the first tax to test our shores but the first unequivocal mention of taxation in Anglo-Saxon England comes from the Law of Æthelberht (Textus Roffensis), the law code of King Æthelberht of Kent, which outlines a complex set of fines, specifying that fines from judicial cases were to be paid to the king.|
|King William I, the Conqueror||1066 - 1087||Norman||Danegeld, Land Tax - William the Conqueror divided England into shires (counties). Each shire was further divided into either hundreds or wapentakes. The land tax was an annual tax based on the value of landholdings which could be collected at differing rates. Most years saw the rate of 2 shillings per hide (£11.12 as of 2013) , but in crises, land tax was increased to as much as 6 shillings per hide (£33.36 as of 2013) . |
Tax Ledger and Asset Register - William the Conqueror famously instructed the Completion of the Domesday Book which effectively provided a Tax Ledger for weighting individual wealth in terms of land holdings - The Domesday Book listings describe the holding, who owned the land before the 1066 conquest, its value, what the tax assessment was including number of peasants, ploughs, and any other resources the holding had. In today's tax terms we would consider this an asset register. Companies are still required to maintain an asset register and include details of this in their annual tax return.
|King Henry I||1100 - 1135||Norman|
|King Stephen||1135 - 1154||Norman|
|Empress Matilda||1141||Norman||50% Reduction in Taxes!!! Maybe not... - Matilda reignited the civil war on 24 June 1141 after she u-turned, refusing the citizens' request to halve their taxes. In 2013, u-turning on tax law and government tax decisions is common place and no longer frowned upon, in fact tax u-turns are expected by the modern taxpayer!!!|
|King Henry II||1154 - 1189||Angevin (Plantagenet)||Centralised Tax Collection - Laid the foundation of the English Jury System and revitalised the Exchequer to enforce accurate record keeping, tax collection and centralised control of taxation by implementation of common law and removal of local tax sheriffs.|
|King Richard I the Lionheart||1189 - 1199||Angevin (Plantagenet)||Crusade Tax Okay.. there wasn't a crusade tax but the reality is that Richard the Lionheart had a huge bill to pay. Crusades don't come cheap, Richard the Lionheart had to sell lands, offices and positions. He raised taxes several times and levied fines for those who did not meet the tax payments in a timely manner (a tradition still adhered to today). The high tax rates and myriad of tax initiatives gave birth to the tails of Robin Hood and his merry tax avoiders.|
|King John 1||1199 - 1216||Angevin (Plantagenet)||King Hohn repeatedly increased taxes to pay for his solders over fears of instability and famously Knocked out the teeth (one a day for eight days) of a Jew who refused to pay a special tax.|
|King Henry III||1216 - 1272||Plantagenet||King Henry levied extortionate taxes to pay for the debts he ran up through the war with Wales, failed campaigns in France and an extensive program of ecclesiastical building.|
|King Edward I||1272 - 1307||Plantagenet||Tax on the Jewish - In 1275 Edward issued the Statute of Jewry a policy which persecuted the Jewish population of England and imposed severe taxation on them. The tax policy was both lucrative and popular, Edward extended this policy further applying taxes that effectively strangled the Jewish community in England. In 1290 the Jews were finally expelled from England (minus their money and property). The money raised from this evil taxation was used to fund Edwards' ambition to be overlord of the Scotland and Wales. in latter years, Edward's heavy-handed treatment of the Scots (demanding extortionate taxes and soldiers to help fight his wars) led to the first inklings of rebellion. His similar approach to taxation and financial strangling of the Welsh provided the foundation for William Wallace and co. |
Wool Tax - 1275, Kind Edward I introduces the wool tax, a tax imposed on the export of wool
|King Edward II||1307 - 1327||Plantagenet|
|King Edward III||1327 - 1377||Plantagenet|| |
To finance warfare on Edward III's scale, the king had to resort to taxation of his subjects. Taxation took two primary forms: levy and customs.
|Richard II||1377 - 1399||Plantagenet||Pay your Poll Tax! At the age of 14, King Richard II was forced to retreat to the safety of the Tower of London after failed attempts to collect unpaid poll taxes in the town of Brentwood ended in a violent confrontation which spread across the south eat of England. The rebels sought a reduction in taxation which had resulted from economic and political tensions generated by the Black Death in the 1340s' and high taxes resulting from the conflict with France during the Hundred Years War.|
|Henry IV||The House of Lancaster||Stay a Head with your taxes! - After the desecrated his grave in 1793, King Henry IV's head was lost to history until 2010 when French journalist Stephane Gabet tracked down the head to the attic of a retired tax collector, Jacques Bellanger who had purchased the head at a Paris auction in the early 1900s|
|Henry V||1413 - 1422||The House of Lancaster|
|Henry VI||1422 - 1461, 1470 - 1471||The House of Lancaster|
|King Edward IV||1461 -1470, 1471 - 1483||The House of York|
|King Edward V||1483 - 1483||The House of York|
|King Richard III||1483 - 1485||The House of York||Tax avoidance cover up? We can hardly blame Richard for this but the unearthing of his body below a council car park but conspiracy theorists suggest this event was rigged to detract heat away from the Tax avoidance scandal that plagued the UK in the summer of 2012. Numerous companies, Politian's, comedians, the loved and famous were exposed as avoiding tax through the use of offshore banks and morally corrupt (but legal) tax avoidance schemes.|
|King Henry VII||1485 - 1509||Tudor|
|King Henry VIII||1509 - 1547||Tudor|
|King Edward VI||1547 - 1553||Tudor|
|Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary)||1553 - 1558||Tudor|
|Queen Elizabeth I||1558 - 1603||Tudor|
|James I||1603 - 1625||Stuart|
|Charles I||1625 - 1649||Stuart|
|Charles II||1660 - 1685||Stuart||Hearth tax - One shilling (£5.56 as of 2013) was liable to be paid for every fire, hearth or stove, in all dwellings, houses, edifices or lodgings.|
|James II||1685 - 1688||Stuart|
|William III||1688 - 1702||Stuart|| |
Window Tax - The window tax was a property tax based on the number of windows in a house. The window tax was a 2 tier tax:
Brick tax - The brick tax was a property tax introduced to help pay for the wars in the American Colonies. Bricks were initially taxed at four shillings (£22.25 as of 2013) per thousand, the tax was abolished in 1850 as it was considered to be a detriment to industrial development.
|Queen Anne||1702 - 1714||Stuart||Wallpaper tax - Patterned, printed, or painted wallpaper was initially taxed at 1d per square yard, rising to One shilling (£5.56 as of 2013)|
|King George I||1714 - 1727||The House of Hanoverian|
|King George II||1727 - 1760||The House of Hanoverian|
|King George III||1760 - 1820||The House of Hanoverian|
|King George IV||1820 - 1830||The House of Hanoverian|
|King William IV||1830 - 1837||The House of Hanoverian|
|Queen Victoria||1837 - 1901||The House of Hanoverian|
|King Edward VII||1901 - 1910||The House of Saxe - Coburg Gotha|
|King George V||1910 - 1936||The House of Windsor|
|King Edward VIII||June 1936||The House of Windsor|
|King George VI||1936 - 1952||The House of Windsor|
|Queen Elizabeth II||1952 - Present day||The House of Windsor|
Do you have an interesting fact on the history of tax? Some information about how a certain King or Queen use tax for good or, most likely, no good? Contact us and share your tax history