A History of Taxation

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I was browsing through a local bookstore last night when I stumbled upon a new book called Rebellion, Rascals, and Revenue. You might not expect a book about the history of taxation over thousands of years to be exactly a page-turner, but it is (at least to me; I really like this kind of thing, particularly since it is combining financial history with political history, both topics of great interest to me). Some of the subjects covered are:

  • The relationship of taxation to government control;
  • How the most ancient writings, including the Rosetta Stone, were actually about tax law;
  • The peculiar ways in which property taxes were computed, including calculations based on the number of windows your house had;
  • Trade and tariffs;
  • How government uses taxes to modify the behavior of its citizenry;
  • How very recent the idea of taxing companies actually is;
  • How the rich have, for time immemorial, sought to avoid getting taxed what the law says is the state’s due.

Although, I’ve got to say, there’s something about that title that rings a bell.