Are we any better off today than our ancestors?

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    Our ancestors had several taxes that we don’t have today, including window tax, hearth tax and soap tax.

    The Window Tax was in force 1696-1851 and based on the number of windows in a house. Some people bricked up the spaces to avoid the tax.

    The Hearth Tax 1662-1689 was based on the number of hearths per household and can be used by genealogists to trace the number of householders in the country and also gives them some idea of how wealthy they were, by the number of hearths each home had.

    In the 13th. and 14th. centuries soap makers had to pay tax on the soap they produced. After the Napoleonic Wars this soap tax rose as high as 3d. per pound. Tax collectors would lock the soap-boiling pans at night to prevent soap makers evading duty on soap production.

    “Soap consumed by a nation is an accurate measure of it’s wealth and civilisation”. (Justin Von Liebig- German chemist at the time)

    Because of the high tax soap was a luxury item and wasn’t commonly used until it was repealed in 1853.

    Benjamin Franklin, one could say, summed up the question of taxes very well in 1789. “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes”.

    Has anything changed one might say!


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