Tax Day History

Tax day is nearly upon us. If you haven’t already fired up the Turbo Tax software, then you have some homework to do this weekend. While you’re slogging through numerous forms more complicated than quantum physics, take heart, our tax system is much better, and far more forgiving than the ancient methods. Today, I’m going to give a very, very quick and dirty history of ancient civilization and medieval English taxation.
If you were living in the ancient world, you would be squeezed not by Rome or Thebes directly but by “tax-farmers”. Men who’d bid to obtain the office and whose job it was to make you pay. These men were loathed across the ancient world because if they came up short, they were required to make up the difference themselves. Since they were not usually from the ruling classes, they didn’t have the social clout to make the rich pay. As a result, they tended to squeeze every last denarii out of the middle class and the poor. Later in the empire, the office of tax collector became hereditary, so some people were bound by birth to be the most unpopular person on the block. When the Roman Empire finally collapsed in 480 AD, the knowledge, learning and complex civil service of Rome disappeared, but taxes remained.

Under the Anglo-Saxons, land was taxed and the proceeds paid to the king. When the Vikings showed up, the money was used to either fight them or pay them to go away (the “Danegeld”).  Once the Normans arrived, William the Conqueror instructed his men to find out what everyone owned and how much they owed him. Thus, the famous, or should I say infamous, Domesday Book was compiled. Landowners were taxed based on how much land they held, but, if they were friends with the king, the king could grant them exemptions. As time went by, too many exemptions meant too little tax money, and the monarch started getting testy. The testiest monarch was King John, but his nobles weren’t having it. They rose up and forced him to sign the Magna Carta which forced the king to get permission from the nobles before he could raise taxes.

So, when you’re filling out your 1040 this weekend, be thankful the Vikings aren’t at your door, King John isn’t seizing your land, and you weren’t born into a tax collecting family in ancient Rome.

If you're getting a rebate this year, why not splurge on a book? My latest Regency romance,  Rescued from Ruin is now available! Reading is a fun way to take your mind off of taxes.

Rescued from Ruin by Georgie Lee

In the eyes of the ton Cecelia Thompson is a wealthy widow, in reality she has barely a penny to her name. Randall Cheltenham, Marquess of Falconbridge, seems to offer a safe haven, but how can she trust the man who has hurt her before — and who seems to have only become darker with the passing of time?


Karan Mccaughey said...

I love the little bit of History! I found your blog on Yesterfood blog party, and I'm glad I stopped by!
I blog about my travels, and hope you will drop by!

Stuck on a Cloud said...

Your books look really good!I think I might just have to check them out.
I was just stopping by from Click and Chat link up party to say hi. I'm now a new follower of all your social media. Stop by and say hi to me sometime. I'm looking forward to sharing with a new blog friend! Have a great week!

Mrsteeh said...

How interesting. Who knew Tax Day had such an interesting history and back story? Thanks so much for sharing it with us over at The Mommy Monday Blog Hop!

Natasha Mairs said...

Thanks so much for linking up to this month's Share the Love Blog Hop

Now following you via GFC

Natasha xx

Tanya @ Moms Small Victories said...

Thanks for linking up with #smallvictoriessunday. This week's linky just went live so hope you link up again.

Thanks too for making me thankful for tax day, but in perspective I guess I should be thankful we don't live in Viking times!

Joy said...

Interesting. I like the idea of paying invaders not to invade. Although, I can see how that might work for only so long.

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