A Tax on Light and Air

Like so many others, I’m working on my taxes, which takes me hours, because I save all my record-keeping for tax time and then have to find, organize, and record all my necessary information. And all this is just to take the stuff to the accountant.

I have no complaints about paying taxes. As a former public employee, married to a public employee, I have an acute sense of what taxes pay for in our society. In Regency times, however, some of the taxes seem pretty odd to us.

Window Tax.
In 1697 Parliament passed a tax on windows. The more windows in a dwelling, the higher the tax. At the time it seemed a fair way to levy taxes without requiring citizens to divulge personal financial information as they would need to do for income tax. It was assumed that the wealthier the person, the bigger the house and the more windows. The wealthy embraced this idea and began to use windows as a way to display status and success. On the other hand, landlords who owned buildings that housed the working classes, resented the tax and bricked up windows to avoid payment. The resulting lack of ventilation simply made bad living situations worse.

Glass Excise Tax.
First levied in 1745, the Glass Excise tax was initially levied on the raw materials that produced glass, but later became a tax on the glass products and was based on weight. Again, the rich embraced the use of glass in large and numerous windows as a way of showing the world how affluent they were. Glass green houses were further proof of wealth. The tax but a burden on glass manufacturere and over the years the law was tweaked, easing the tax on production houses manufacturing small glass products or those making optical glass. In 1845 it was appealed altogether. In 1851 so was the Window tax.

Have you come across any other strange taxes of the Regency period or of any historical period? Have you filed your taxes yet???

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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