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window tax

window tax. William III's window tax (1696) was imposed on every dwelling except cottages. The rates were 2 shillings for houses with less than 10 windows, 6 shillings for 10–20 windows, and 10 shillings for more than 20 windows. It led to the stopping up of windows, often temporarily until the assessment had passed, many houses were built with fewer windows, and in Edinburgh a row was built without bedroom windows. During the Napoleonic wars the tax was increased on several occasions and by 1815 the yield was a substantial £2 million. In 1823 the tax was halved and in 1851 abolished. Throughout its existence it was hated because of the inspections to count windows, because the wide definition of a window permitted any hole in the wall, including coal holes, to be counted, and because it was regarded as a tax on light and air.

Margaret Wilkinson

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