History of Tax Events

It is a traditional function of livery companies to maintain historical records of the livery and to foster interest in the history of their associated trades. The Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers has only a short history since its formation as a guild in 1995 (see link) but the imposition of taxes, in many diverse forms, goes back for millennia. Many members of the Company have a longstanding interest in the history of taxation, a rather neglected area for academic research, and in 2008 the Company formed a History of Tax Group. The profession of tax adviser is also a fairly young one and the Group's interests include the development of the profession and the history of tax administration.
The first meeting was held in February 2009 when the late John Jeffrey-Cook gave a talk on “The Remarkable William Pitt and his Taxes”, which formed the basis of an article published in the British Tax Review in 2010. Since then the group has met twice a year in February and October. These meetings are open to all with an interest in the history of taxation and are held in the early evening, and sometimes followed by lively discussion over supper in a nearby restaurant. Attendees at these meetings include a cross-section of company members, together with spouses and guests, students and professors of the history of tax, current and former members of HM Revenue and Customs, and members of the tax judiciary.

Meetings are open to all, Company members and non-members alike, but places must be booked in advance (Booking Form link below). If you would like to attend future meetings of the group please e-mail adminwcta@ciot.org.uk to be included on email circulation. 

Forthcoming meetings:

20  February 2018 Professor Martin Daunton will be speaking on Land Taxation in the British Empire with particular reference to India and New Zealand.

Biographical details: 

Martin Daunton is Emeritus Professor of Economic History and Head of the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences in the University of Cambridge, where he was also Master of Trinity Hall between 2004 and 2014. Before moving to Cambridge in 1997, he was Astor Professor of British History at UCL. He served as President of the Royal Historical Society and a trustee of the National Maritime Museum, and is currently a Commissioner for English Heritage. He has written two books on the history of taxation: Trusting Leviathan: The Politics of Taxation in Britain 1799-1914 and Just Taxes: The Politics of Taxation in Britain, 1914-1979. He is currently working on a book on the economic governance of the world since 1933.

Booking form: Click here to book your place

Outline: The Politics of Land Taxation in the British Empire 

The taxation of land in the British Empire was not just a means of fiscal extraction but a way of shaping the nature of society. Should the colonies follow the pattern of English agrarian society, with a tripartite system of large landowners, tenant farmers and landless labourers as a way of creating efficient division of responsibilities? Or should the colonies return to a system of peasant proprietorship that had been destroyed in England? The issue was fought out in English politics, but was even more central to politics in the colonies. In India, policy veered between creating a class of large zamindars who paid taxation direct to the East India Co and the Raj in return for security of their holdings, and taxation of small peasants in the ryotwari system. Similarly, in Australia and New Zealand, there was a political controversy over the structure of society, between those who favoured large squatters and those who wished to break up their holdings through taxation. The New Zealand tax of 1879, for example, did not tax income from employment but imposed a tax on land even when it produced no income. These colonial debates drew on English political debates over the taxation of land, and were fed back into the Edwardian debates. The talk explores the politics of the taxation of land across the British Empire.

Past meetings:

The material included in this section has been written by the authors from the presentations given by them to members and guests of the History of Tax Group of the Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers and is reproduced for educational purposes with the permission of the authors and where applicable by agreement from the publishers. All rights reserved.

October 2017        Helen Thornley: "The Women’s Tax Resistance League 1909-1918"
February 2017       Matthew Peppitt: "Taxing the ultimate luxury – Plate duty: the taxation of the goldsmiths’ and silversmiths’ trade 1719 – 1890"
October 2016        Peter Allen: "National Insurance: Tax or Welfare State?"
February 2016       Professor Sir John H Baker:  "The Curious Case of Mr Trull"
October 2015        Professor Chantal Stebbings: "Tax and Quacks: the Medicine Stamp Duty 1783 - 1941"
February 2015       Professor Martin Daunton: "Creating a new fiscal constitution in post-war Japan"
October 2014        Peter Fawcett:  "Taxation in Classical Athens"
February 2014       Professor Julian Hoppit, FBA"Scotland and the British Fiscal State, 1707 - 1800"
October 2013        Dr John Avery Jones CBE: "Seven Appeals and an Acquittal: the Singer Family and Their Tax Cases" 
March 2013          
John Pearce: "Rewriting Income Tax Law 1907-56"
October 2012        David Williams: "Surveying Taxes in the Great War 1914-1918"
February 2012       Prof. Jane Frecknall Hughes"The History of the Tax Profession"
October 2011        John Pearce: "The Road to PAYE"
February 2011       Prof. Chantal Stebbings: "Victorian Asylums: the Tax Factor” 
September 2010    John Brown CBE: “Paul de Voil’s VAT decisions”
September 2010    Prof.David Southern: Inflation,Taxation & Revaluation:Germany 1920-1930”                      
February 2010       Prof. Jane Frecknall Hughes: “Magna Carta Revisited”
September 2009    Dr John Avery Jones CBE: “Finding historical tax material in the ‘PRO’”
September 2009    Richard Thomas: “Sir Sidney and Sir John: the Rowlatts and Tax"
February 2009       John Jeffrey-Cook: The Remarkable William Pitt and his Taxes”