Monday, April 18, 2011

A Brief History on Taxation on the Homefront

Thank you from procrastinator's anonymous to Washington DC for having a holiday that extended the window to file through an extra weekend. There was quite a line at the post office today.

From the faces in line at the post office and mailing stations around town, it is fair to surmise the popularity of this day is not in celebration of the great American Institution, the IRS, but rather in spite of.

Mixed iris
In the symphony in favor of raising taxes, there is a missing instrument. The one that evokes the human spirit.For those who are composing future government revenue plans, I submit these examples from  when the Brits planned to raise revenue by raising taxes.

 1696- The window tax. King William III  concluded taxing by the number of windows one owned was far less an invasive than a straight income tax.  As structures grew with wealth and hence more windows, they expected it to be seen as fair. The result: Bricked up facades where windows used to be.

1712- The wallpaper tax. During Queen Anne's reign, what was more a luxury item than printed wallpaper? To tax this purely decorative item, it would impact only the rich. The rich discovered they could purchase plain wall paper. Once hung, it could be hand stenciled without incurring a tax.  

1773.King George III.  The Tea Tax. Three words: Boston Tea Party.

1784.The Brick Tax. King George III needed to pay for the war against the American colonials. With the same reasoning as the window tax, a fee was levied based upon lots of a 1,000 bricks. The result- bricks were manufactured in larger sizes. The burden of the tax caused business failures in construction. Architecture changed to accommodate non-taxed building materials.

My conclusion. Fairness is in the eye of the beholder.  Until textbooks,  line graphs and pie charts pay taxes, the human spirit must reign .  For the government to raise revenue from people and institutions run by people, there is only one way to raise revenue. Through the encouragement of commerce.

Images by Gene Sasse. Used with permission.


Anonymous said...


VERY GOOD! What a very interesting blog. I learned so much and found it extremely interesting. Seems that taxing the rich is not a new plan at all! Can you say Robin Hood? However, I always thought Robin was a good guy. Now that I think on it, what's good about stealing from those who have worked hard and earned more, then giving it to those who have not earned it. As I have said I really do want to pay my fair share because we do depend on government to give us so many services. Enough is enough tho!
Also, the wealthy own businesses and thereby create jobs for others. So they are really the heroes! Also the more you have, the more you can be generous and give to charities.
Well, off my soapbox but you did start it! lol

LOVE the Irises. They remind me so much of Gladiolas which are favorites of mine. My mother would bring me an arm load of them on Saturdays when I was pregnant with John III.

XO Trisha

Lydia said...

Thank you, Trisha.

Iris season is one of my favorites. They give so much for requiring so little.

We can still like Robin Hood.

Robin Hood and King John were different characters in a different play.

The story is set in a day when there was no concept of public land and the King had no inkiling towards civic responsibility or charity to his people. He would rather see his people starve than allow them to hunt or gather from lands which they had right to as citizens of the realm.

We have tools in America to deal with modern day King John- like characters. Elections, Anti-Trust and Securities regulations to start with.

It is my observation that goodness is unrelated to either wealth or the lack thereof. But for those who are good, wealth becomes the store from which they can offer a hand up or hand out as they see fit. A good person without funds does not have that opportunity.

It is my strong belief that policy should be directed to aid the good and recognize that the vast majority of people in this country are good.

Oregon Sue said...

"A good person without funds" may not be able to give monitarily, but they can give of their time and self. Always something good to do, as it befefits others as well as yourself.

I was in the Post Office yesterday and noticed all those sending off envelopes to the IRS had a look of gloom on their faces. :o(

Love the Irises too! My Iris stalks are just coming up. Another month before the beautiful blooms. xo

Lydia said...

Sue- Amen. Give of what we have.
Time. Energy. Talent. All have accounts to be drawn on.