Prior to the 17th century, the King enjoyed hereditary revenues payable by custom. This included crown rents, various duties etc. After the restoration of Charles II, the Crown’s feudal dues were terminated and the position of the Crown relative to Parliament was greatly diminished. They were largely replaced by other levies.
When the hereditary revenues exceeded expenses, the sovereign did not have to rely on the Parliament. From the Restoration until the 1688 revolution, hereditary revenues were such as to require little additional monies from Parliament.
Customs are an ancient levy imposed on the import and export of goods. They were customary duties, due to the King under the royal prerogative, similar to other customary revenue.
In early times, customs were collected by private individuals under royal licences for the King. It might be in return for a specified sum or a loan advanced by him to the King. So-called farmers collected revenue on behalf of the King in many instances keeping a significant part themselves.
In Ireland, the right to collect customs, were farmed by way of leases with covenants to pay the King particular sums, and they were entitled to retain the balance.
There is evidence as far back as the 14th century, of the appointment of Custom Collectors and Controllers, Receivers of Customs, Searchers, Packers and Gaugers. In harbour towns, customs were charged by persons elected for such purposes. Major towns and cities had significant jurisdiction which extended outside of the town in the port towns in the South East, South and West of the country.
Excise existed from early times as a broad tax on inland consumption. The duty was generally applied to importers and manufacturers etc.
An Act of Excise passed in 1662 settled the excise and new tax on His Majesty and heirs. Similarly, the Act of Customs was passed in 1662. Two Acts of 1662 established the Commissioners of Revenue in Ireland.
The Act of Excise 1662 levied a variety of goods in particular beer, aquavit or strong waters. Import excise apply to drugs, imported hemp, flax, tobacco, silk, salts and other goods specified.
The rates were commonly about 5%, in some cases higher or lower. The excise was charged on many imports as well as inland consumption.
An office was established known as the Office of Excise was established in Dublin managed and governed by up to five Commissioners. The Commissioners were appointed by the Lord Lieutenant and were commissioned under the Great Seal of the Realm.
The Commissioners were empowered to appoint clerks and other officers for the suburbs and liberties of Dublin. Similar appointments elsewhere were to be made by the Lord Treasurer. Various oaths were to be taken by the Commissioners in respect of the due performance of their functions.
The Civil War in England had followed long periods of personal rule by Charles I.After the Civil War / War of the three Kingdoms and the Commonwealth period, the relationship of Crown and parliament was reset, with the restoration of Charles II.
The Act of Customs 1662 was for the purpose of settling the subsidy of Poundage, Tonnage and other sums on his Majesty and heirs to be paid upon merchandises imported and exported into the Kingdom of Ireland according to a book of rates annexed.
The duties covered over 900 different products and goods, largely based on volume or weight.A further statute of 1662 provided for licensing to sell ale and beer on payment of a excise charge.
Quit Rent, which arose from forfeitures after the 1641 rebellion were fixed by the Acts of Settlement and Acts of Explanation in 1662 and 1655. They were reserved on all estates granted by the Crown to adventurers’ soldiers and persons holding debentures.
Hearth money was introduced in Ireland in 1662. It was effectively a tax on dwellings. Every dwelling, other house or building was to be charged with an annual payment to the King of two cent for every hearthfire or other place within it used for firing and stoves.
The Commissioners of Customs were established of much the same basis as the Commissioners of Excise. They were appointed by the Lord Lieutenant, Privy Council. They were commissioned under the Great Seal and held office during good behaviour.
The full benefits of receipts less cost of collection was to go to the Crown. Certain farming of revenue still existed but ultimately these expired and the first Commissioners were appointed after the expiration of the farm of the Revenue.
Customs and excise were placed under the direction of the same board of seven members. Each were Commissioners of Customs, and most were also Commissioners of Excise.
By the 18th century, the Revenue Service was widely established as one of the principals, if not the principal agency of the government. A significant level of corruption existed. Some steps were taken over time to reduce it.
Lighthouse duty was payable to the King under his prerogative. Duties were granted usually in consideration of construction of a lighthouse. In the early 18th century, lighthouses were put under the care of the Revenue Commissioners who were to pay the expenses out of hereditary revenue.
In addition to parliamentary taxes, tithes and county cess were payable. Considerable corruption existed in local government with the Grand jurors placing contracts with their associates.
The hearth tax was enforced by the constable in each parish who was obliged to furnish the Revenue Commissioner with a return of the number of hearths. The Revenue would then make a charge against the Collector. In 1795 all householders in a single hearth dwelling (more than 85%) were relieved of the tax.
Window tax appeared at the end of the 18th century which was effectively a property tax based on the number of windows in the house.
In 1773, the boards of customs and excise were united into the Board of Customs and Excise. The Stamp Duty Act 1775 created charges on various documents and other items.
Following the commencement of war with France in 1793, there was a shortfall in government revenue. The government had been financed during the 18th century by taxes on consumable such as salt, tea, leather, sugar, alcohol etc. By the late 19th century, the cost of servicing the national debt had climbed to 83% of current revenue.
By the end of the 18th century, the total tax take in Ireland was £1,300,000. Hereditary revenue accounted for £616,000, covering charges on imports and exports of various kind, one beer and ale licences, crown rents and hearth tax. Additional duties of £570,000 over and about hereditary revenue were raised from stamp duty £58,000, post office surplus £46,000. The appropriated duties brought total revenue up to £1.5 million.
After the Union, a commission inquiring into fees and emoluments in public office disclosed the roles played by various offices of customs. It was recommended that fees and gratuities should be abolished, and adequate salaries and compensation paid. The board recommended segregation of the Commissioners of Excise and Customs, once again.
An 1806 Act established certain regulations in relation to collection and management of revenue in Ireland. It was lawful for the King to appoint between five and seven Commissioners of Customs and to appoint other persons up to seven to be Commissioners of Inland Revenue.
The Commissioners appointed in 1807 pursuant to 1806 Act numbered seven Commissioners of Customs and Port Dues, seven Commissioners of Inland Excise and taxes. There were also five Commissioners of Stamps. The Excise and Taxes Commissioners also administered and assessed taxes in respect of fire hearths, servants, dogs, carriages and windows.
19th Century Reorgansaiton
An 1823 Act consolidated several Boards of Customs and several Boards of Excise of Great Britain and Ireland. Up to 13 Commissioners of Customs and 13 Commissioners of Excise could appointed for the election of revenues and customs and excise throughout the whole United Kingdom. Up to four Assistant Commissioners of Excise and four Assistant Commissioners of Customs might be appointed for the management of the revenues respectively arising from Scotland and Ireland.
In 1827, the Commissioners for Stamps in Ireland ceased, and the Commissioners of Stamps of Great Britain became the Commissioners of Stamps for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. A 1834 Act provided for the merger of the Boards of Commissioners of Stamps and Commissioners for the Affairs of Taxes to be consolidated into the Board of Commissioners of Stamps and Taxes.
A state laboratory was established in 1840 with a view to preventing adulteration of tobacco. The laboratory expanded its functions to cover most excisable commodities. The Board of Inland Revenue was incorporated in 1849 by an Act to consolidate the Boards of Excise and Stamps into one Board of Commissioners of Inland Revenue.
Formerly, the Revenue had its own distinct police force with its own substantial vote in Parliament. Its functions were merged into those of the constabulary in 1857.
The Revenue police enforced customs and excise matters, in particular in relation to illicit distillation. Excise officers could call in aid, the military. Following a reorganization of the constabulary in 1826 illicit distillation significantly declined.
In 1908, the management of excise duties within the scope of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue was transferred to the Commissioners of Customs. The Commissioners of Customs became the Commissioners of Customs and Excise.
On the eve of the independence of the Irish Free State, the inland revenue included a stamp and tax department at the Custom House an Estate Duty Department and Registrar of Death Duties.
Probate duty was introduced as part of the Stamps Act 1694,It originally applied to all probates of wills and letters of administration for personal estates valued greater than £20, at a fixed duty of 5 s.
Legacy duty was also imposed in 1780, initially upon receipts or discharges given with respect to a legacy. Probate and legacy duty focused on the legacy of the estate, as opposed to its devise, thus excluding real property from taxation.
Succession duty was introduced to capture transfers on death that would not otherwise be chargeable to legacy duty. No probate or letters of administration would be granted by the Court if a court officer cannot certify that an affidavit has been filed stating the estate’s value and stamped where liability for duty is shown.
In the Finance Act 1894, estate duty replaced probate duty, account duty, certain additional succession duties, and the 1889 estate duty. It was collected in addition to the legacy duty and succession duty which still remained in effect.
Income type taxes, dated back to the 16th century. They were applied by way of assessments from time to time. During the French wars at the end of the late 18th century, financial necessity required the introduction of income tax 1799. The legislation was not extended to Ireland until 1853. No machinery had existed in Ireland and the state of society made its collection difficult. Ireland instead was subject to special duties on spirits, manufacture and increased stamp duties.
In 1906 tax was a uniform rate of 5% with the exemption of income up to £160. Earned income relief was introduced in 1907. A surtax was introduced in 1909. In 1906 tax was a uniform rate of 5% with the exemption of income up to £160. By the end of World War I rates had raised to 30% with surtax of 22.5%. There are significant allowances for spouses and dependents.
A surtax was introduced in 1909. By the end of World War I rates had raised to 30% with surtax of 22.5%. There are significant allowances for spouses and dependents.