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:

15 June 2021 - History of Tax | NOT EVEN JEEVES KNEW HOW TO AVOID INCOME TAX | P G Wodehouse and his tax affairs with Tony Ring


P G Wodehouse (1881-1975) started writing for reward part-time in 1900, when he earned £ 5 9s 6d (or as we would say, about £650), rising to £ 34 12s 4d in 1901. His income rose steadily and he never looked back. From his first visit to New York in 1904, he was to cross the Atlantic 38 times by 1938, exposing him to the horrors of two immature but complex tax systems - in the UK but more particularly in the USA. These ranged from the meaning and implications of residence, a lack of any double tax relief, uncertainty as to the tax treatment of different types of payment for literary works, the incompetence of many professional advisers and the record-keeping difficulties of the IRS. Tony will review the impact of all these and more, with apt quotes from Wodehouse himself, and show how they were responsible for the major disruption to the last third of his life.


Tony Ring joined Arthur Andersen from University to study for the ICAEW qualification and, encouraged by Iain Stitt, that of the Institute of Taxation. As a result of Iain’s influence, Tony soon became a Committee member of the Institute and, at the age of 42, its President. In 1987, at the invitation of the late Julian Lee, he helped to plan and implement what was then the second largest MBO in Britain’s history, the demerger of Bricom from British & Commonwealth Shipping. After the MBO company was sold three years later, Tony spent 18 years as a part-time member of the VAT Tribunal, but also had time to write a book about the influence of the immature tax systems on international authors such as P G Wodehouse (of whose works Tony had been an avid reader for many years).

Booking form:

If you wish to attend the event please register by clicking HERE

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.

February 2021
Chantal Stebbings, Professor of Law and Legal History at the University of Exeter on Tax in Historic Landscape.
To watch the recording of the talk CLICK HERE
If you wish to view the slides separately - CLICK HERE
Report by Caroline Turnbull-Hall
To view the answers from Professor Chantal Stebbings (via Slido) CLICK HERE

October 2020     
Don Korb, former Chief Counsel for the International Revenue Service on History of US Taxes - 10 Key Dates.
To watch the recording of the talk CLICK HERE 
Report by Caroline Turnbull-Hall
To view the answers from Don Korb (via Slido) CLICK HERE
June 2020           
Professor Penelope Tuck, Dr Dominic de Cogan & Dr John Snape on A Tale of the Merger of the Inland Revenue and HM Customs & Excise.
To watch the recording of the talk CLICK HERE

February 2020      
Professor Michael Braddick on the Case of Ship-Money (R v Hampden) (1637): Prerogatival Discretion in Emergency Conditions;
and Professor Martin Daunton on Thomas Gibson Bowles v Bank of England (1913): A Modern John Hampden?, both cases from the book "Landmark Cases in Revenue Law"; report by Caroline Turnbull-Hall

October 2019        Peter Allen: "Death Taxes - a UK History" 

February 2019       Gottfried Schellmann: "Taxes in the Austrian Hungarian Empire"; report by David Williams

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"
                            November 2020: An updated version of this talk was presented online and can be viewed via the link below:
                            NO VOTE NO TAX | The Women's Tax Resistance League - 4 November 2020
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" 
                            To access the presentation materials, please CLICK HERE
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”