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:

24  October 2017 Helen Thornley will be speaking on the Women’s Tax Resistance League – part of the suffrage movement in the early 1900s.

Biographical details: 

Helen Thornley is a Technical Officer with the ATT. After graduating in Natural Sciences from Cambridge, she qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Grant Thornton before moving into tax and qualifying as a Chartered Tax Adviser. She has previously worked in Cumbria advising family businesses and landed estates in the Lake District. She has always enjoyed writing about tax and has recently had a series of articles published in Tax Adviser contrasting historical and modern taxes.

Outside of tax, Helen enjoys walking up hills and swimming in cold lakes.  She is also a keen amateur potter and preserve maker, volunteering at the ‘World’s Original Marmalade Festival’ at Dalemain, Penrith. This uniquely British affair raises funds for charities Hospice at Home and Marie Curie Scotland.

Booking form: Click here to book

Outline: The Right to Resist - The Women’s Tax Resistance League 1909-1918 

Founded in 1909, the Women’s Tax Resistance League was part of the suffrage movement, campaigning under the slogan ‘No Vote, No Tax.’  At a time when women were subject to tax on their incomes, homes and servants yet lacked a Parliamentary vote, members felt keenly the injustice of taxation without representation.

League supporters refused to pay income taxes, property duties and licences for dogs, guns and carriages. Goods were frequently seized for auctions and resisters - or in one case the resister’s husband - sent to jail.  Thanks to its own in-house tax adviser Ethel Ayres Purdie, the first women to be admitted to an accountancy organisation, the League was able to represent its members in tax cases.  The League also instigated test cases, challenging in particular how married women were taxed where their income was deemed to be that of their husbands’.

Based on research from the League’s archives Helen’s talk will look at the activities of the League, including the taxes they resisted and the cases they took, until partial enfranchisement was achieved for women in 1918.

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.

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”