WINDOW TAX, a tax first levied in England in the year 1697 for the purpose of defraying the expenses and making up the deficiency arising from clipped and defaced coin in the recoinage of silver during the reign of William III. It was an assessed tax on the rental value of the house, levied according to the number of windows and openings on houses having more than six windows and worth more than 5 per annum. Owing to the method of assessment the tax fell with peculiar hardship on the middle classes, and to this day traces of the endeavours to lighten its burden may be seen in numerous bricked-up windows.
The revenue derived from the tax in the first year of its levy amounted to 1,200,000. The tax was increased no fewer than six times between 1747 and 1808, but was reduced in 1823. There was a strong agitation in favour of the abolition of the tax during the winter of 1850-1851, and it was accordingly repealed on the 24th of July 1851, and a tax on inhabited houses substituted. The tax contributed 1,856,000 to the imperial revenue the year before its repeal. There were in England in that year about 6000 houses having fifty windows and upwards; about 275,000 having ten windows and upwards, and about 725,000 having seven windows or less.
In France there is still a tax on doors and windows, and this forms an appreciable amount of the revenue.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)