Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Taxed

There are various taxes in England at certain time periods. Most of these records are limited in availability. The tax records are photographs of the time period much like a census record.

Lay Subsidy returns are certainly some of the earliest records, which is a tax to subsidize the coffers of a royal personage, mostly during times of conflict or war. The subsidy tax showed value of the appraised property or goods and the rate of tax charged to each tax payer. Do a keyword search for lay subsidy, subsidy returns, subsidy tax or subsidy rolls.

The Hearth taxes in England 1664-1666, 1672-1674, and the Hearth tax in Scotland in 1691 taxed dwellings based on the number of chimneys or hearths in each house or mansion. The Hearth Tax is one of the most complete of the taxes. The tax gives location and the number of hearths, indicating wealth by the higher number of hearths. Many people avoided the tax by knocking down some of their chimneys and using the hearth opening as an alcove or storage facility.

The Window taxes charged a per house tax of two shillings and an additional tax for the number of windows above ten windows. Properties with between ten and twenty windows paid a total of four shillings, and those above twenty windows paid eight shillings. In 1766 the minimum number of windows was change to seven and in 1825 to eight. In England there is still evidence of some older cottages having the windows blocked up to avoid the tax.

A bachelor and childless widower tax was enacted in 1694 and came into force on 1 May 1695, initially for a five-year period, but was later extended until 1 August 1706. This tax was to help pay for the war with France and to encourage people to marry as to lessen the financial burden on communities supporting widows and spinsters. Bachelors more than 25 years of age and upon childless widowers, paid one shilling a year or if your property was worth more than £100, six shillings and on up depending on societal class. The records for these taxes are mixed in Quarter Sessions and parish chest records.

There are also poll taxes (head tax), occupation taxes and much like today in California taxes on just about anything.

Word of the Day:
Henchboy = a page or servant

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