ALCAVALA (Spanish, from Arab. al-quabalah, "tax," quabula, "to receive"; cf. Fr. gabelle), a duty formerly charged in Spain and its colonies on all transfers of property, whether public or private. Originally imposed in 1341 by Alphonso XI. to secure freedom from the Moors, it was an ad valorem tax of 10, increased afterwards to 14%, on the selling price of all commodities, whether raw or manufactured, chargeable as often as they were sold or exchanged. It subjected every farmer, manufacturer, merchant and shopkeeper to the continual visits and examination of the tax-gatherers, whose number was necessarily very great. This monstrous impost was permitted to ruin the industry and commerce of the greater part of the kingdom up to the time of the invasion of Napoleon. Catalonia and Aragon purchased from Philip V. an exemption from the alcavala, and, though still burdened with other heavy taxes, were in consequence in a comparatively flourishing state.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)