18th Century Tax Facts

August 2, 2005

Some interesting tax factoids from the 1700s (courtesy of Prof. Jim Mahar of FinanceProfessor.com):

In 1733 Britain passed the Molasses Act. It raised taxes on molasses from Non-British West Indies. Liike most taxes, this tax resulted in changes in behavior. By 1763 approximately 80% of molasses was smuggled into the colonies.

In 1765, the Stamp Act is enacted. It sets off protests centered in Boston. Most likely not coincidentally, Boston is suffering through a serious economic downturn.

In 1773 Britain lowered taxes on tea shipped into Britain but not on that shipped into the colonies. This gave British tea exporters a virtual monopoly but angered colonialists. The Act ended up sparking the most famous tax revolt of all time: the Boston Tea Party. At the Tea Party, an estimated £9,650 (or roughly equivalent of the annual income of 200 common laborers) was destroyed.

In 1789 Benjamin Franklin writes “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Incidentally, Franklin dies in 1790.

In 1799 Britain imposed its first income tax. The tax was remarkable similar to current income taxes. It was for 10% for incomes over £200 but allowed deductions for “children, insurance, repairs to property, and tithes.”

Read more here.


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