King William the third introduced a window tax into his Kingdom in 1696. Income tax was not in existence then as the populace considered details of their own income to be private and not a matter for the King to worry about. The window tax was introduced to get around this problem. Read on to discover more about the historical facts about an old taxation system on windows in the United Kingdom.
So, in order to be able to impose some sort of taxation on his people, the king decided that people with large houses could be taxed on a tiered system. There was a tax rate of 2 shillings for every householder. This equates to roughly ten new pence. In addition to this there was an extra tax for the householder if their house had more than ten windows.
For a property of ten to twenty windows each person would pay more than the flat rate. They would have to pay four shillings more. And for a house with over twenty windows, the property owner would have to pay eight shillings more. This was later reduced to a house with 7 windows. In 1825, the minimum number of windows taxed would be changed to eight.
This tax was quite unpopular among the people even though it was possible to claim an exemption. If the occupants were poor, they could apply for an exemption.
In order to evade this tax, residents resorted to bricking up extra windows. This occurred mainly in the 17th and early 18th centuries. In Scotland, this tax was not introduced until the 1780s by William Pitt the Younger. Even here, residents painted over their windows black with white crosses. These became known as Pitt’s pictures. A visitor to Charlotte’s Square in Edinburgh can still see these windows on some of the houses.
Many of the more wealthy families of the time were thought to show off their wealth by having houses of many windows built. They may even have had extra windows put in were walls existed to prove that they could afford to pay the tax.
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