History of Tax Events

It is a traditional function of livery companies to maintain historical records of the livery and to foster interest in the history of their associated trades. The Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers has only a short history since its formation as a guild in 1995 (see link) but the imposition of taxes, in many diverse forms, goes back for millennia. Many members of the Company have a longstanding interest in the history of taxation, a rather neglected area for academic research, and in 2008 the Company formed a History of Tax Group. The profession of tax adviser is also a fairly young one and the Group's interests include the development of the profession and the history of tax administration.
The first meeting was held in February 2009 when the late John Jeffrey-Cook gave a talk on “The Remarkable William Pitt and his Taxes”, which formed the basis of an article published in the British Tax Review in 2010. Since then the group has met twice a year in February and October. These meetings are open to all with an interest in the history of taxation and are held in the early evening, and sometimes followed by lively discussion over supper in a nearby restaurant. Attendees at these meetings include a cross-section of company members, together with spouses and guests, students and professors of the history of tax, current and former members of HM Revenue and Customs, and members of the tax judiciary.

Meetings are open to all, Company members and non-members alike, but places must be booked in advance (Booking Form link below). If you would like to attend future meetings of the group please e-mail adminwcta@ciot.org.uk to be included on email circulation. 

Forthcoming meetings:

26  February 2019  Gottfried Schellmann will be speaking on Taxation in the Hapsburg Empire.

Biographical details: 

Gottfried Schellmann is a graduate of the Vienna Law School and a member of the Chamber of Austrian Tax Advisers. After working in several tax advisory and tax audit firms, he was Fiscal Officer in charge at the Chamber of Commerce in Lower Austria from 1982 to 1985 and a partner in his own firm from 1989 to 1998. He was a partner in KPMG and chairman of the Indirect Tax European Technical Group from 1999 to 2008. In 2009, he formed Mueller & Schellmann, a boutique tax advisory company. He is also currently Vice President of the Confederation Fiscale Europeenne, the umbrella organization of the European Associations of Tax Advisers. He is one of the main co-authors, together with certain officers of the Austrian Ministry of Finance, of the Austrian corporate tax code.  He has held office in many other international tax bodies including the European VAT Club and the VAT Expert Group of the European Commission. He also lectures in VAT law at the University for Advanced Sciences in Vienna.

Booking form: Click here for booking form / Click here for guest flyer

Outline: Taxation in the Hapsburg Empire 

The talk will trace the history of taxation in the Hapsburg Empire from medieval times to the 19th century,  starting with its relationship to the feudal system in rural areas, through the abolition of serfdom in 1848, and the introduction of customs and excise duties in urban areas.  He will cover the contributions in the 18th century of the Empress Maria Theresa and the Emperors Joseph II and Leopold II, and the introduction of land taxes based on cadastral values and their eventual abolition at the urging of the nobility and the Catholic Church.  The 19th century saw the development of income taxes for businesses and then, in 1849 and in part through the influence of William Pitt's legislation in the UK, individuals as well. Gottfried will examine how this system was developed and implemented, and then replaced by a more comprehensive system of taxing individuals and companies which lasted until the German occupation in 1938.   He will examine the "divorce agreement" between Austria and Hungary of 1870 which gave rise to the first double taxation agreement in history, and the first treaty between Austria and Prussia (1899). Finally he will examine how the Austrian Code of Fundamental Rights (1867) still operates today and ask whether its prohibition of "exit taxes" , originally imposed on departing serfs, is relevant to modern tax charges.

Past meetings:

The material included in this section has been written by the authors from the presentations given by them to members and guests of the History of Tax Group of the Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers and is reproduced for educational purposes with the permission of the authors and where applicable by agreement from the publishers. All rights reserved.

October 2018        Professor Caroline Barron: "Taxation in the medieval City of London (1066 - 1500)"
February 2018       Martin Daunton: "The Politics of Land Taxation in the British Empire" - Click here to view slides
October 2017        Helen Thornley: "The Women’s Tax Resistance League 1909-1918"
February 2017       Matthew Peppitt: "Taxing the ultimate luxury – Plate duty: the taxation of the goldsmiths’ and silversmiths’ trade 1719 – 1890"
October 2016        Peter Allen: "National Insurance: Tax or Welfare State?"
February 2016       Professor Sir John H Baker:  "The Curious Case of Mr Trull"
October 2015        Professor Chantal Stebbings: "Tax and Quacks: the Medicine Stamp Duty 1783 - 1941"
February 2015       Professor Martin Daunton: "Creating a new fiscal constitution in post-war Japan"
October 2014        Peter Fawcett:  "Taxation in Classical Athens"
February 2014       Professor Julian Hoppit, FBA"Scotland and the British Fiscal State, 1707 - 1800"
October 2013        Dr John Avery Jones CBE: "Seven Appeals and an Acquittal: the Singer Family and Their Tax Cases" 
March 2013          
John Pearce: "Rewriting Income Tax Law 1907-56"
October 2012        David Williams: "Surveying Taxes in the Great War 1914-1918"
February 2012       Prof. Jane Frecknall Hughes"The History of the Tax Profession"
October 2011        John Pearce: "The Road to PAYE"
February 2011       Prof. Chantal Stebbings: "Victorian Asylums: the Tax Factor” 
September 2010    John Brown CBE: “Paul de Voil’s VAT decisions”
September 2010    Prof.David Southern: Inflation,Taxation & Revaluation:Germany 1920-1930”                      
February 2010       Prof. Jane Frecknall Hughes: “Magna Carta Revisited”
September 2009    Dr John Avery Jones CBE: “Finding historical tax material in the ‘PRO’”
September 2009    Richard Thomas: “Sir Sidney and Sir John: the Rowlatts and Tax"
February 2009       John Jeffrey-Cook: The Remarkable William Pitt and his Taxes”