In the spirit of summer, we’re creating a series containing some of the important dates in US tax history.
Why is this something we talk about in July? Back on July 4, 1776, Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, a document that stated the American colonies wouldn’t accept British rule — or taxation.
But that’s just one key date in the history of American taxes. Let’s look at critical years and dates that lead up to the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
1733 Molasses Act
This tax was imposed to keep the American colonies buying from the British West Indies and not the lower cost imported options. The imposition of this act was effective the first year then led to corruption.
1764 Sugar Act
An extension of the Molasses Act, this act increased the tariff per gallon on molasses. It was enforced by prohibiting vessels from shipping directly to the colonies. Ships would have to unload their cargo, pay tariffs, then reload and proceed to the colonies. It also expanded what the Crown could tax.
1765 Stamp Act
This act said that every official document in the colonies would need a stamp on it. This was done to solely to increase the revenue of the British government, which caused opposition to emerge.
1766 Declaratory Act
This act repealed the Stamp Act while also declaring that the American colonies are subordinate to the British Government and so the government had the right to tax them. As you can imagine, this didn’t go over well.
1767 Townshend Acts
This act taxed 72 addition imports including paint, tea, and paper. The revenue raised was to fund the salaries of colonial officers and its administration. The protests from this act eventually caused the Boston Massacre.
March 5, 1770 – Boston Massacre
What started as a protest of angry American colonists harassing a single British soldier escalated to a bloody conflict where several colonists were shot and killed. This was used to fan the flames of anti-British sentiment.
1773 Tea Act
This act established that only tea from the East India Trading Company could be sold in the American colonies. The new tea was cheaper, but it hurt independent shop owners, shippers, and smugglers, which is why it caused a backlash.
December 16, 1773 – Boston Tea Party
Protesters dumped more than 300 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor in protest of the 1773 tea act.
1774 Coercive Acts
The British pass a series of policies designed to reestablish authority over the American colonies. One of the provisions was Boston Harbor would remain closed until the colonist paid the East India Trading Company for the losses of the tea party.
July 4, 1776
The Declaration of Independence is adopted after days of the discussions and 12 of 13 colonies agreeing to succeed. The actual signing of the Declaration didn’t occur until August 2.
Taxation is a large portion of why the American colonies felt it necessary to break away from England. Taxation continues to be a large part of America’s history, especially in the years immediately following the Revolution.
We’ll cover that time period next.