On December 31st 1695, a tax on windows was established by Parliament. This was a way for Parliament to create a tax, based proportionally on income without admitting it was an income tax. The idea of an income tax during the 1700s was extremely controversial. The window tax was the source of many 18th century grievances and was known widely as “the tax on light and air” and “the tax on the absence of property (as a window is a lack of brick.)”
By the 1750s, the window tax had been updated so that any house not considered a cottage was subject to a tax of 1 shilling for every window, plus a 3 shilling flat rate. Houses with less than 7 windows only had to pay the 3 shilling tax. Unfortunately, this affected factories, multifamily homes, and inns disproportionally and many poorer families could not afford them.
Many newer house styles at the time, reflected the window tax by excluding windows in their design and many people blocked up windows to avoid the tax. Poorer families felt singled out as they could only afford to buy older houses which were in the older styles and thus had more windows and bigger taxes. Many families blocked up some of the windows in in their homes, usually at the back of the house, to avoid the extra taxes.
Tired of taxes? During the 18th century, British territories also had a hearth tax, poll tax, carriage tax, horse tax, farm horse tax, “inhabited house” tax, servants’ tax, clock and watch tax, cart tax and even a dog tax, among others.
You can really see why their was so many grievances and why taxation without representation was such an injustice. The British subjects were expected to fund all projects that the King and Parliament deemed important regardless of what the laboring people, making the money, had to say. Believe it or not, American subjects were exempted from a lot of these taxes or paid them in a different manner (tax on glass instead of counted windows.) Americans were afraid that these taxes were slowly being forced upon them.