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Social Sciences

Tax in the Landscape: the Physical Manifestation of Imperatives and Inertia in Tax Law

31 August 2014 - 1 September 2016

PI/s in Exeter: Professor Chantal Stebbings

Funding awarded: £ 9,800

Sponsor(s): British Academy

About the research

This project aims to show that tax and the landscape combined to create an unexplored and unforeseen dynamic which shaped the physical environment in the nineteenth century when landscape change and fiscal evolution coincided in the context of widespread industrialisation. Through the examination of specific taxes which had a direct impact on the landscape, taxpayers’ responses to them and tax legislators’ and policy-makers’ attitudes to landscape, the project reveals the historic interaction of tax and the physical setting for human activity.

Specifically, the research examines the effect on the built environment of taxes on construction materials and individual building design, and explores whether these effects were understood by legislators when introducing new taxes. It explores the effect on the landscape of the localism which pervaded tax administration, and finally it investigates the nature and development of an architecture of tax and how far specific building design was understood to promote a fiscal identity.

The research is based on government and legal sources at the National Archives in Kew, the London Metropolitan Archives, the British Library, local record offices all over the country, specialist sources at the Royal Geographical Society and extensive fieldwork.