Let’s start with Britain then. I know this is Mad Mikes AMERICA but I’m English and being so I am, as a result, slightly biased, so we’re starting with British tax. So there.
British taxation began in 1203, which is, sadly, the year 1203 as opposed to 12 minutes past 3 o’clock today. King John imposed a tax on wool. What he had against sheep is lost in the mists of time but then, in 1275, King Edward I introduced a tax on wine shortly before leaving for America to introduce prohibition.
That last bit about prohibition isn’t true by the way. Just so you know.
I know what you’re thinking, “Good grief! Norman’s actually ‘Googled’ to get his facts right!!”. Yes I have. There we go. My reputation for speaking complete gibberish several moments before my brain kicks into gear goes straight down the proverbial pan.
Quite a few other taxes popped up from Elizabethan times onwards but reading about them is just boring so take my word for it eh? One was a ‘window tax’ of all things in 1707 which resulted in a huge rise in profits in the brick industry as people desperately bricked up all their windows to avoid this particular tax. Many people suffocated or developed rickets due to a lack of air and/or sunshine as a result of having no windows at all.
Only some of the above is absolutely true. The brick / rickets thing is an uneducated guess.
Moving onto ‘tax as we know it’ 1798 was the fateful year when William Pitt the Younger decided it would be a wizard wheeze to tax British people to pay for the Napoleonic War effort.
It may well be that people’s patriotism along with the pleasure of beating up the French made this tax bearable. It was temporarily rescinded when Britain thought it had won, reinstated again when we realised the referee had blown early for full time and, after the Battle of Waterloo when we had actually won, rescinded again. However, the seed was planted in politicians minds.
“Hey chaps!” they said to each other, “what a cracking way to pay ourselves lots of money for getting elected, doing very little worthwhile and get huge pensions when we retire!”
Not a lot, well actually nothing, has changed since then.
Now the American taxation system is slightly different. It all kicked off in the 1760′s because America was a British colony and felt a bit pissed off about paying taxes back to good old Blighty. Perhaps understandably I suppose. I believe one such tax was related to whiskey so I’m not surprised their was considerable annoyance. Why should an American give their hard earned to Blighty for swigging a few shots? Quite right too!
Still, as a result of America gaining independence they didn’t have to pay any taxes to dear old Blighty anymore. They just had to pay so many different taxes – along with the obvious taxes such as ‘payroll’ and so forth – that accountants and politicians got even richer than their counterparts in Britain.
Basically, the British and American systems of taxation are identical. Not in their ‘make up’ but in their outcome.
We, the people, get poorer whilst they, the politicians and business leaders get richer.
Democracy eh? A government of the people for the people.
Almost reminds you of communism really. All people are equal but, as George Orwell wrote so accurately, “some people are more equal than others” – sounds a bit like Britain and America and, I guess, pretty much any other democracy.
I lost touch with my best pal from schooldays in our 20′s. My fault entirely. I thumped his brother in law to be at the wedding reception. He was an asshole mind you. In our early 50′s he got in touch via Friends Reunited. “About time we had a beer eh mate?”
It was a glorious reunion. He admitted to now being a multi-millionaire businessman. I admitted to being a union rep protecting the livelihoods of my union members from unscrupulous bosses. He admitted to being in a quite ‘legal’ tax avoidance scheme. I admitted that, being an employee, I had no choice about paying my taxes.
“I always knew you’d be a commie” he said.