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Scotland and the Taxing Union, 1707–1815

Hoppit, J; (2019) Scotland and the Taxing Union, 1707–1815. Scottish Historical Review , 98 (1) pp. 45-70. 10.3366/shr.2019.0379. Green open access

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Abstract

This article sketches the amounts of taxes collected in Scotland for central government between the Union of 1707 and the end of the Napoleonic wars, looking at the impact of the Union, change over time and comparisons with how much taxes were collected in the rest of Britain. Those findings are then generally explained with reference to tax policy, taxable capacity and the tax gap. Finally, how these findings affect our understanding of the Union state are considered. Contrary to many accounts, the Union did not immediately lead to much larger amounts of taxes being collected, nor to much money being sent to London. Rather it was from the 1780s that substantial change on both accounts took place, though even in 1815 the per capita tax take in Scotland was under a half that in England and Wales. Trying to resolve the tension between the principles of equality and equity enshrined in the Union treaty, tax policy was more sympathetic to Scotland's circumstances than is often allowed. Very speculatively, Scotland's taxable capacity appears to have been significantly less than England's, even as late as 1815. And while the revenue services were necessarily more costly in Scotland, probably greater relative poverty there also lowered tax compliance compared to England.

Type: Article
Title: Scotland and the Taxing Union, 1707–1815
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3366/shr.2019.0379
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3366/shr.2019.0379
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Scotland, Union of 1707, tax policy, taxable capacity, revenue
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10064791
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