Document Type



Tax Law


Although the identity of Chartism was bound up with political demands, many in the movement consistently pressed for the repeal of duplicative taxes on consumption and the introduction of even-handed taxation of land, capital and labour. Earlier popular radicals had asked for limited tax relief. Chartist leaders from the outset saw a link between fiscal problems and the democratic deficit prolonged by the Reform Act, insisting that a broader franchise would quickly lead to a broad direct tax. Novel features of their tax agenda emerged as they transformed views first aired in radical attacks on the replacement of workers with machinery and on the house and window taxes. By 1842, when Peel reinstated the income tax, they were arguing in their own words for the equity and neutrality of such a measure. Historians of the movement have neglected the coherence and detail of this Chartist agitation. With Peel’s defeat, and Disraeli’s failed attempt to extend the income tax, parliamentary hearings on making the tax permanent reflected elements of the movement’s distinctive views.

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