Window Tax 1696 - 1851

The Window Tax was introduced in Britain in 1696 as a replacement for the Hearth Tax, (which had been phased out a few years before).

Working on the assumption that all houses had to have some windows, the tax payable by the occupier of the house began at a flat rate of 2s. An additional payment for each property was calculated relative to the number of windows above a certain minimum:

  • Properties with 10 - 20 windows: 4s
  • Properties with more than 20 windows: 8s

These charges were revised several times during the life of the tax: in 1747, when a tax per window was calculated, the charges were as follows:

As you can imagine, this tax was seen as quite unjust as it was, literally, a tax on daylight. It was an easy tax for the government to calculate, too: the tax collector didn't even need to enter your home to count the number of windows you had! The tax was extremely unpopular, especially with the less well-off who often had to resort to bricking up a number of windows in their homes in order to reduce the tax burden. To this day, bricked-up windows can be seen on properties in many British towns and cities.

The Window Tax was repealed on July 24th 1851, only to be replaced by "House Duty", a duty on inhabited houses.

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