The Land Tax and role of commissioners

The Land Tax was the first and, for a long time, the only form of direct taxation to be imposed in Great Britain on a regular basis.

It lasted longer - over 250 years - than any other form of direct taxation, from its inception in 1693 to its final abolition by the Finance Act of 1963.

The tax was levied on land and property, including mines and quarries, but also on personal property and on salaries received from public offices. It was collected from wealthy individuals, such as the owners of great estates, as well as individuals like tradesmen and shopkeepers.

Land Tax commissioners

Acts authorising the collection of the land tax were passed every Parliamentary session. Periodically they included the names of the commissioners whose job it was to supervise the assessment and collection of the tax, as was the case in 1821.

The names of the commissioners were put forward by MPs in each county in England, Scotland and Wales and the commissioners had to have an income from land of at least £100 per annum.

On the whole the commissioners were drawn from the gentry, but also included members of the peerage and of the professions, such as doctors. They were not paid for the work they did.

Also in this section

Learn how the Land Tax relates to the wider history of taxation and Parliament's role in raising taxes