A Short History Of The Introduction Of Window Tax In The United Kingdom

In order to explore the historical facts about an old taxation system on windows in the United Kingdom, read on. The window tax was a tax which was introduced into the United Kingdom in the late 17th century by King William the third. He was finding it hard to find a way to tax people based on their income or wealth because many people refused to tell the king how much they earned. They felt it was a completely private matter and certainly no business of the King.

Of his subjects, the King decided that the most fair method of taxation would be by looking at the size of people’s houses. Each person who owned a house would have to pay a fixed fee of 2 shillings. This is about 10 pence in the new system. As well as this, if the house was large and contained more than 10 windows, there were extra taxes to pay.

If the house had between ten and twenty windows, then this extra tax was 4 shillings and anything over twenty windows had to pay eight shillings. Later, as the king wanted to increase the tax, he reduced the minimum number of windows to be taxed from ten to seven. This was further changed in 1825 to eight windows.

Poor residents of course did not have to pay this extra window tax. If they were eligible to receive church charity, for example, then they would be exempt from paying.

In order to evade this tax, residents resorted to bricking up extra windows. This occurred mainly in the 17th and early 18th centuries. In Scotland, this tax was not introduced until the 1780s by William Pitt the Younger. Even here, residents painted over their windows black with white crosses. These became known as Pitt’s pictures. A visitor to Charlotte’s Square in Edinburgh can still see these windows on some of the houses.

It may be possible that in contrast to this, many of the richer families actually had extra windows designed into their houses. They commissioned properties with as many windows as possible. Even blank walls had window facades to create the look of more windows.

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