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Social Sciences

The Legal Protection of Taxpayers' Rights 1780-1914

1 October 2004 - 30 September 2007

PI/s in Exeter: Professor Chantal Stebbings

Funding awarded: £ 101,964

Sponsor(s): Leverhulme Trust

About the research

This project addressed the central element of the taxpayer’s relationship with the law, namely the protection it afforded to ensure only the correct amount of tax was paid, that it was legally levied and justly administered. These legal safeguards consisted of the fundamental constitutional provision that all taxes had to be consented to in Parliament, local tax administration, and a power to appeal to specialist tribunals and the courts.

The project explored how these legal safeguards were established and how they were affected by changing social, economic and political conditions. They were found to be restrictive and inadequate, and were undermined by the increasing dominance of the executive. Though they were significantly recast, they were not destroyed. They proved flexible and robust, and the challenge they faced in Victorian England revealed that the underlying, pervasive constitutional principle of consent from which they drew their legitimacy provided an enduring protection for the taxpayer.

This project was sponsored by a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship.

One of the outputs of this project was Professor Chantal Stebbings' book, The Victorian Taxpayer and the Law: A Study in Constitutional Conflict, Cambridge University Press, Tax Law Series, 2009.