Window Tax

In chapter 9, Mrs Rushworth leads a tour of Southerton. “… Having visited many more rooms than could be supposed to be of any other use than to contribute to the window–tax, and find employment for housemaids…” Here is some data from the archives on the window tax.

The window tax was introduced in 1696 and was in existence until 1851. The tax was imposed upon every inhabited dwelling house in England (and Wales), except cottages. That is, houses not paying to church and poor rates in a parish.

The initial charge was:

o For every house with less than 10 windows – 2 shillings.
o From ten to twenty window s- 2 shillings and 4 shillings additional making a total of 6 shillings.
o Twenty or more – 2 shillings plus an additional 8 shillings, making a total of 10 shillings.

Pitt made alterations to the tax in 1784. The fixed starting charge for houses was increased to 6 shillings.

In 1792 the charge was altered as follows:

o For houses with not more than 6 windows and with a value of under 5 pounds per year (rental income, one presumes) 6 shillings and 6 pence.
o If the house was of that value or more, then the charge was 8 shillings.
o For houses with 7 windows – the charge was one pound
o Eight windows – 1 pound, 13 shillings
o Nine windows – 2 pounds 2 shillings
o Ten window – 2 pounds 16 shillings
…and so on by a rather irregular ascending scale until we reach houses with not more than 40 windows but not less than 44, when the charge was 28 pounds, 17 shillings and 6 pence.

o The scale continued; for houses with 100 windows the charge was 58 pounds 17 shillings.
o The uppermost part of the scale was houses with 180 windows or more for which the charge was 93 pounds 2 shillings and 6 pence, and 3 shillings was charged for every window over that number.

The yield for this tax in 1815 (the year of the Battle of Waterloo) was 2 million pounds.

It is probably right to say that the window tax was one of the reasons why Mr. Collins was so impressed with the windows at Rosings. 😉