Window tax

May 2019
If the window tax was tripled in 1797 from 6pence per window per year to 1s6d per year per window, why would anyone block their windows? The modern equivalent is £3.31 per window per year using the national archives calculator. A 14 window house would pay £46.34 per year, hardly a taxing tax. What was the cost of bricking up a window? The tax is so low it hardly seems worth households paying to block their windows at all. Is the national archives calculator wrong? What are your thoughts?


Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
Welsh Marches
Walking into town I pass a handsome Georgian house which has the windows blocked on one side, and this is by no means untypical, it has always surprised me that this was often done in houses that must have been owned by quite wealthy families. This is the house, there are bricked-up windows on the left-hand side facing the wooded valley, depriving the owners of a most attractive view:

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May 2019
Given that modern income tax is about 50% after national insurance, student loan repayment etc a person able to afford that house in 1800 having to pay £3.30 per window per year doesn't seem too extortionate... I understand there were notches where the rate went up if you had 15 rather than 14 windows but still it's hardly anything in modern terms. The daily wage for a worker and materials to block the window and make good would be more than a years' worth of tax I would have thought.


Forum Staff
Feb 2009
Eastern PA
You are thinking of the cost in today's value of money. That tax increase is a huge multiple of almost 27 times, which had to be onerous for all but the wealthy.
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Apr 2012
Iowa, USA
Even taking in to account inflation over the last 220 years it's less than £70 a year.was window blocking a false economy?
You keep quoting the cost of the tax in modern terms ; what was the average yearly wage in GB at the time adjusted for inflation?

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
The question makes no sense. The window tax was clearly onerous or nobody would have blocked off their windows. A proper historian learns not to impose his modern biases and sensibilities onto the people of that time.
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