Excise Taxation and the Origins of Public Debt

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-10-31
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

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This book offers a wholesale reinterpretation of both the introduction of excise taxation in Great Britain in the 1640s and the genesis of the Financial Revolution of the 1690s. By analysing hitherto unpublished manuscript and print sources, D'Maris Coffman resolves divergent accounts of these constitutionally problematic but fiscally significant new taxes. Parliament's success at imposing on a deeply divided kingdom an extra-legal species of indirect taxation, which hitherto had been a constitutional anathema and a political impossibility, remains one of the most striking features of the period. A fresh reading of William Petty's Treatise on Taxes illustrates the development of an indigenous discourse in defence of the tax state. By highlighting the importance of fiscal innovation during the Civil Wars and Interregnum for the development of the fiscal state in Britain, this study challenges 'stylised facts' about the economic significance of 1688/89. The final chapter delivers new insight into why the eighteenth-century British public accepted both unprecedented levels of government borrowing and one of the heaviest tax burdens in Western Europe. Coffman reveals how a 'new financial history,' rooted in closely contextualised studies, can contribute to current debates about sustainable levels of taxation and to fundamental questions of economic theory.

Author Biography

D'Maris Coffman is the Mary Bateson Research Fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge, UK, Director of the Centre for Financial History, and Affiliated Lecturer, History Faculty. She works on the relationship between public finance and private capital markets in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe. With Dr Anne Murphy of the University of Hertfordshire, Dr Coffman co-manages the European State Finance Database and with Dr Louise Pryor the Corn Returns Online. She sits on the Council of the Economic History Society. Dr Coffman received her MA and PhD in History from the University of Pennsylvania and her BSc in Economics from the Wharton School.

Table of Contents

1. Excise Taxation in Context
2. The Introduction of the Excises
3. The Excises under the Long Parliament, 1647-1648
4. The Commonwealth Excise, 1649-1653
5. The Case of the Soap Boilers
6. The Protectorate Excise, 1654-1659
7. The Restoration Excise, 1660-1663
8. The Political Economy of Taxation
9. Looking Forward

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