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Resist, or be ruined!

15 March 2016 / Andrew Harper
Issue: 4542 / Categories: Comment & Analysis , Land & property

200 years ago when income tax was abolished.


  • The property tax (in effect income tax) was introduced in 1799 and redesigned in 1803.
  • Campaign to abolish the tax had great public support.
  • William Hone’s pamphlet railed against the tax.
  • Income tax was only reintroduced in 1842.


Defeating Lord Liverpool’s Tory government by 37 votes in a packed House of Commons on the evening of 18 March 1816 gave the Whig leader Henry Brougham the greatest triumph of his career. The occasion was the motion of Chancellor Nicholas Vansittart to continue what was officially titled the property tax but which was in fact an income tax. It was the re-modelled successor of a type first imposed by William Pitt in January 1799 as a desperate expediency to meet the increasingly voracious demands made on the Treasury by the Napoleonic Wars.


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