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Key dates

1643 - Excise duties first imposed
Charged on beer and tobacco

1693 - The Land Tax first imposed

1696 - Window Tax imposed
2 shillings on properties with up to ten windows, and four shillings for between 10 and 20 windows. It remained in force until 1851

1799 - Income Tax introduced
By Prime Minister William Pitt

1816 - Income Tax abolished
A year after the end of the Napoleonic War, by popular demand

1842 - Income Tax reintroduced
By Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel

1861 - Establishment of the House of Commons' Public Accounts Committee
Set up to examine the expenditure of money granted by Parliament. Originally consisting of nine MPs, the Committee now consists of 16 MPs

1909 - Lloyd George's 'People's Budget'
Introduced old age pensions and required steep increases in taxation, including rises in death duties and a new 'supertax' on the wealthy. Further welfare reforms up to 1914 (national insurance, unemployment assistance) required more increases in taxation

1918 - The Income Tax Act
Passed to consolidate all previous legislation relating to the tax

1940 - Purchase Tax introduced
A tax on sales

1941 - Income Tax standard rate at an all-time high of 10 shillings in the pound
More than 10 million people paying direct taxation

1944 - PAYE system (Pay As You Earn) introduced
Enabled employers to deduce tax from their employees' pay weekly or monthly

1973 - VAT (Value Added Tax) introduced
A tax on a wide range of goods and services

1989-90 - Poll Tax (or Community Charge)
Came into force in Scotland and England. It was replaced by the Council Tax in 1993


Parliament's role

What Parliament does and its main roles of scrutiny, legislation and raising taxes

Find out more


You can access biographies of

William Pitt
David Lloyd George

from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for free, online, using your local library card number (includes nine out of ten public libraries in the UK) or from within academic library and other subscribing networks.