8 Annotations

First Reading

vincent  •  Link

located on "thence to the Excise Office in Broad Street," (july 4th)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

After the Great Fire of 1666, the Excise Office moved to Bloomsbury Sq. (L&M)

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Some highlights on the source of funds for the Excise Office over the years. More information from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exc…

In defense of excises on strong drink, Adam Smith wrote: "It has for some time past been the policy of Great Britain to discourage the consumption of spirituous liquors, on account of their supposed tendency to ruin the health and to corrupt the morals of the common people."

Samuel Johnson was less flattering in his 1755 dictionary: “EXCI'SE. n.s. ... A hateful tax levied upon commodities, and adjudged not by the common judges of property, but wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid.”

Monies raised through excise may be earmarked for redress of specific social costs commonly associated with the product or service being taxed. Tobacco tax revenues, for example, might be spent on government anti-smoking campaigns.

Excise duties or taxes often serve political as well as financial ends. Public safety and health, public morals, environmental protection, and national defense are all rationales for the imposition of an excise.

Excise (often under different names, especially before the 15th century, usually consisting of several separate laws, each referring to the individual item being taxed) has been known to be applied to substances which would in today's world seem rather unusual, such as salt, paper, and coffee. In fact, salt was taxed as early as the 2nd century, and as late as the 20th.

Many different reasons have been given for the taxation of such substances, but have usually – if not explicitly – revolved around the scarcity and high value of the substance, with governments clearly feeling entitled to a share of the profits traders make on these expensive items. Such would the justification of salt tax, paper excise, and even advertisement duty have been

The window tax was introduced after controversy arose around the introduction of income tax, which was considered to be a breach of privacy. The rationale behind this was that the grandeur of a person's house, and hence the number of windows, was a visible sign of their wealth – which could, furthermore, not be hidden as income can. One way people got around this problem was to brick up their windows. In the case of poor people this was a big social problem, as they would often force themselves to live in the dark in order to avoid paying this tax.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The Excise Office was on Broad Street -- Pepys often visited this wide road in the City as Capt. Cocke lived here and it also contained African House and, from 1664, the office and residence of the Navy Treasurer, Sir George Carteret.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

A review of some early 17th century excise taxes, and their political implications:

"Foodstuffs were inevitably a pawn in the long struggle between king and Parliament, in practical as well as the more frequently-discussed cultural ways. Take currants for example, essential to the mince-pie and plum pudding.

"By 1600, currants were imported into England in such huge quantities that the Italians were speculating that the English must be using currants for industrial dyeing as well as for food.

"For those with a seriously sweet tooth, the importing of sugar grew enormously during the 1650s and later, so that by 1654 sugar and tobacco from Virginia and the Caribbean, increasingly from Jamaica, made up the bulk of the import trade of Bristol.

"Add to that the steady trade into West Country ports of Spanish and French wine, and the imports of oranges and lemons from the Mediterranean, in plentiful supply by the mid-1500s, at least in London, and you had the makings of a festive experience -- except for taxes.

"After 1640 Parliament at one point banned imports of currants, then put a tax on those imported from Greece in order to help its beleaguered garrison city of Gloucester.

"More impactful still was Parliament’s excise tax, first imposed in 1643 and stealthily and not so stealthily extended over the following decades as a duty not only on the many varieties of alcohol, but also on other foods including meat, fish, salt and tobacco. The excise fell on consumers, so most heavily on the poor.

"And in 1655 the war against Spain disrupted the wine trade, and the supply of Mediterranean produce like oranges.

"Without luxury imports for Christmas, there was always native produce. Herefordshire cider rivalled French wines, at least in the eyes of its enthusiasts, including its leading champion, Dr. Roger Bosworth, MP for Hereford in the 1659 Parliament.

"Tobacco was another home-grown stimulant: in 1655, it was cultivated and sold in 14 English and Welsh counties. But there was no escaping the excise tax on the cider, and a comforting pipe of English tobacco could not be enjoyed legally, as Cromwell’s government clamped down on the trade and insisted that all tobacco should be the duty-heavy variety imported from the colonies."


San Diego Sarah  •  Link

More background on how the excise worked during the 17th century:

"The excise, which was approved by Parliament in July 1643, was even more innovative. This was a tax on certain commodities, including alcohol, tobacco, foodstuffs and fabrics. It took two forms:
The excise on foreign goods was, in effect, an additional customs levy.
More significant was the excise on inland goods. This was levied on the manufacturers. As such, it was the first widespread tax imposed on English domestic manufacturing.
It was also highly controversial. Many saw it as a symbol of the general increase in the tax burden being imposed by the Long Parliament. Moreover, the investigative powers given to the new excise officials were viewed as being especially intrusive.

"Historians have attributed these innovations to John Pym, the MP who died later that year, and was the leading critic of King Charles in the Commons, but it is now clear that a number of MPs were equally prominent in these developments.

"The success of the excise and the assessments enabled the Long Parliament to finance its military victory over King Charles.
They then, along with the customs, remained the basis for English taxation until 1660.

"But the excise was still unpopular and, in 1660, the Convention Parliament initially planned to abolish it. However, the excise on beverages was continued in order to help replace the feudal tenures and purveyance abolished as part of the new financial settlement for Charles II. The excises on other goods were also subsequently reintroduced.

"The assessment meanwhile remained the principal form of direct taxation under Charles II and James II.

"It was eventually superseded by the land tax, introduced in 1692, which combined features of both the subsidies and the assessments."

For more, see http://www.historyofparliamentonl…

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Everything you want to know about the Excise Taxation and the Origins of Public Debt from 1647 - 1663.

The Restoration Chapter can be read in full at

"The Restoration of Charles II in 1660 did not mark the end of the mid-century experience with fiscal experimentation.
Almost all of the surviving records of the Interregnum excise regime come from the investigations of the lord treasurer after the Restoration.
The Treasury, assisted by Elias Ashmole, comptroller of the excise for the city of London and future accountant-general of the whole excise, was able to preserve for the restored regime the lessons of Interregnum finance Coffman, 2010, pp. 235–256).
As salary books from both sides of the Restoration confirm, much of the excise establishment had survived not only the Protectorate but also regime change. These continuities in the administrative structures and in personnel facilitated the settlement of the excise.
To a remarkable degree, the Restoration’s first lord treasurer was successful at brokering a compromise with local interests and in rewarding those who had been loyal to the Crown.
Displaying commitment to the ‘ancient course of the Exchequer’ and to the rule of law, the Treasury was able to defuse resistance to the tax and secure continued access to financial intermediaries."

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