The other day during our discussions we went on a philosophical trip, “before you canter your imaginative horses, of this being yet another article on ‘minimalism’ or ‘meaning of our existence’..blah..blah”. No, we were thinking more practical i.e. ‘Taxes’, we pondered upon why, how, when about taxes.

The word ‘tax’ first appeared in the English language only in the 14th century. It derives from the Latin taxarewhich means ‘to assess’. Before that, English used the related word ‘task’, derived from Old French. For a while, ‘task’ and ‘tax’ were both in common use, the first requiring labour, the second money. (

Income tax was first imposed on personal wealth in Britain in 1798, to pay for the wars with Napoleon. It was billed as a ‘temporary’ measure, renewable annually by Parliament — and has remained so ever since (it still expires on 5 April every year). (

At the start of World War One in 1914, the standard rate of income tax in Britain was 6 percent; by the end of the war in 1918 it was 30 per cent. An Excess Profits Tax was levied on companies benefiting from war production. The total tax ‘take’ was 17 times higher than it had been in 1905. (

In the US, the ‘New Deal’ in response to mass unemployment during the Great Depression of the 1930s relied heavily on the Federal Government’s ability to borrow against future tax revenues. It was only after Pearl Harbor, and the US entry into World War Two, that the Revenue Act of 1942 subjected millions of new taxpayers to income tax and gave rise to a whole new taxpaying culture. (

The Cold War between the ‘West’ and the Soviet Union ensured that vast military machines continued to operate at public expense, and ‘defence’ loomed large in the finances of the new states right from the outset. (

There were interesting imperial measures of taxation in history, but we prefer keeping our blogs short and sweet.

Now the philosophical question, are we paying our taxes more as a penalty for accumulating more than we need? or Is it the ultimate cost of accumulating wealth? or Is it the leveller for the less fortunate? Open questions for all to ponder. I am assuming none of the religious texts have a clear opinion on the taxes, but both of them have coexisted in past and present, they might even exist in future.

Pardon me Tax(wo)man. cheers..

A Blog with an Alternative Perspective.