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OU on the BBC: Breaking the Seal - Programme two - Tax records

Updated Friday 13th April 2007

A programme summary for Tax, the second programme of the BBC/OU's series Breaking the Seal.

Powder your wig; pay your taxes Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC

If you think paying taxes is hard, spare a thought for monarchs and Parliaments who have struggled for a thousand years to come up with taxes that people can’t avoid. At first they just taxed wealth; in the fourteenth century they tried a Poll Tax and soon had to drop that. Domestic taxes like windows and hearths proved unpopular and not so hard to avoid.

By the eighteenth century practically everything was taxed – from servants to wigs and pets – and out of this lunacy, eventually, inevitably, parliament approved an income tax.

In this second programme, Bettany Hughes gets her hands on real history as she tours the country for the fascinating tales buried in the tons of public records.

Read more in the programme transcript.

Breaking the Seal in more depth:

 

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