Window Tax Imposed in England – 1695
On this day in 1695, Parliament passed a bill that specified that taxes would be assessed according to the number of windows and openings houses and shops had. Many shopkeepers and homeowners bricked over their windows rather than pay the tax!
If you tour Great Britain (or, actually, pretty much anywhere in Europe), you will see lots of old buildings still standing and in use today. Many of the older houses in England and Scotland still have bricked-up windows from that long-ago tax, even though it was repealed in 1851.
The rationale for the tax seems somewhat reasonable: the rich can afford to pay more taxes than the poor, and the rich tend to live in larger houses than the poor. The larger the house, the more windows it is likely to have. Makes sense?
However, according to some sources, the tax was a heavy burden on the middle class. Also, some people saw it as “a tax on light and air”!
Apparently the tax resulted in the richest families in the country using windows to set themselves off from the merely rich. When building a country home or manor, they would order an excessive number of windows—even building some over structural walls. The message seemed to be, “We're so rich we don't have to worry about extra taxes per window!”
By the way, France had a similar Doors and Windows Tax from 1798 to 1926.
Also: New Year's Eve and related holidays worldwide!
For lots of info and ideas about this important “eve,” see last year's post.