History of Taxation

The history of taxation dates back to time immemorial and it is not a recent development by any account. A thorough research on the history of taxation system shows that taxes were levied on either on the sale and purchase of merchandise or livestock.

Further, the history of taxation suggests that the process of levying and the manner of tax collection were unorganized. But it suggests that all historical leaders and head countrymen collected taxes to run its authority. In other words taxes on income, sale, purchase and properties were collected to run the ruling Government machineries. Further, these taxes were collected to meet their military and civil expenditure and also to meet the common needs of the subjects like maintenance of roads, drainage system, government buildings, administration of justice and other functions of the region. day India tax machinery is very much based on that laid down foundation.

Although, there were no homogeneous tax rate structures but it depended on the production capacity and commodity of that particular country and/or region. Moreover, the tax rates and quantum varied according to the annual production. These taxes were collected in cash or in kind and it entirely depended on the type of commodity or service on which it was levied upon. For example, there was a very common practice of selling food crops and cash crops to government machineries against no money. The history of taxation suggests these were done to store government buffer stocks to meet emergencies. Taxes were levied on all classes of citizens, like actors, dancers, singers and even dancing girls. Taxes were paid in the form of gold-coins, cattle, grains, raw-materials and even by rendering personal service.

In India, the tradition of taxation has been in force from ancient times. It finds its references in many ancient books like 'Manu Smriti' and 'Arthasastra'. There was a perfect admixture of direct taxes with indirect taxes and they were varied in nature. India's history of taxation suggests existence of a large and composite taxable population. With the advent of the moguls in India the country witnessed a sea of change in the taxation system of India. Although, they also practiced the same norm of taxation but it was more homogeneous in structure and collection. The period of British rule in India witnessed some remarkable change in the whole taxation system of India. Although, it was highly in favor of the British government and its exchequer but it incorporated modern and scientific method of taxation tools and systems. In 1922, the country witnessed a paradigm shift in the overall Indian taxation system. Setting up of administrative system and taxation system was first done in the history of taxation system in India. The period thereafter witnessed rapid growth and modernization of the Indian taxation system and the present.

Last Updated on 14th June 2011

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