History Tax - Taxation of Movables

History of Accounting > Tax History > THE TAXATION OF MOVEABLES

The Saladin tithe, 1188. Taxation of moveables. The jury system applied. The ordinance for the Saladin tithe.
From a fiscal point of view, perhaps the most important act of Henry II. was his introduction into our fiscal system of a new form of general tax, in which eventually the land tax on the knight’s fee, the tallage of royal demesne, and the other forms of direct taxation merged. This touched all moveables, reaching the landowner, through his cattle, farming stock, and corn and other produce of lands, and the burgher or townsman, through his furniture, money and stock-in-trade, and was first introduced into this country on the occasion of the Saladin tithe, in 1188.
A tax on moveables, levied in several countries in Europe, towards the expenses of the first crusade, had been collected by means of chests erected in the churches. Into these the contributories were required to put so much in the pound on the value of their effects and the debts of which they had a certainty of being paid. An oath had been required of them that the total was justly summed up, and false swearing and fraud were punished by the penalty of excommunication. But in ancient, as in modern times, in taxation, oaths have ever been little regarded. The oath of the taxpayer never has formed the basis of fair taxation, except in connection with some power of verification. Such a power was supplied in the system of inquest by jury, which, originally applied in ascertaining the legal and financial customs for the Doomsday survey, had recently, in 1181, been adopted by Henry for the Assize of Arms, issued by him to enforce the old duty of going to the fyrd, that is, joining the expedition against an enemy, which never had merged in the feudal military service, and to renovate and rearm the old national militia. Under the Assize every freeman was required to provide himself with arms and armour according to his means; knights, according to the number of their fees; other freemen, according to their possessions in rent and chattels And the value of rent and chattels was to be assessed by chosen knights and freemen in every hundred and borough, the number to be fixed by the king’s justices.1
When, therefore, the second crusade, to expel Saladin from Jerusalem, commenced, and after king Henry had taken the cross, the national council held at Geddington resolved to levy towards the crusade a tenth of rent and moveables on all except crusaders, a precedent was ready for application in the assessment
of the tax.
The ordinance according to which the tithe was to be levied had been made by Henry in council at Le Mans, after his taking the cross. Its provisions were to the following effect:—
1 Per legales milites vel alios liberos et legales homines de hundredis et de burgia. Assisa de armia habendis in Anglia, s. 9. Benedictus Abbas, i. 278; Hoveden, ii. 261.
1. Every one shall give in alms this year the tenth of his rents and moveables. Except, in the case of knights, their arms, horses and clothing; and in the case of the clergy, their horses, books and clothing and vestments and church furniture of every sort; and except the jewels of clergy and laity.
2. The second section has reference to collection. This is to be made in every parish in the presence of the representatives of the church, the knights templars and hospitalers, the king, the baron, and the clergy; after excommunication denounced by the ecclesiastical authorities in every parish against the fraudulent. Then follows the jury clause :—’ And if any one shall, in the opinion of those presiding at the collection, have given less than he ought, let there be chosen from the parish four or six freemen, who, on oath, shall state the amount which he ought to have stated; and then he shall add what before was wanting.’
3. The third section contains an exemption in favour of the clergy and knights who had taken the cross, and would serve personally in the expedition.
4. The fourth section provides for the promulgation of the Ordinance in every parish.1
1 Benedictus Abbas, ii. 31; Hoveden, ii. 335. For the Latin text of the ordinance, see Appendix, post, p. 249.

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