What Is the Inland Revenue?

The Inland Revenue was a department of the British government that existed from 1849 to 2005. The department was responsible for collecting direct taxes, such as income tax, and administering benefits, such as child tax credits.

Key Takeaways

  • The Inland Revenue was a British government department responsible for collecting direct taxes and administering benefits between 1849 and 2005.
  • The Inland Revenue was first established in the United Kingdom in 1849 and merged with Her Majesty's (HM) Customs and Excise to form HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in 2005.
  • Inland Revenue was an 1849 amalgamation of two former government boards—the Board of Excise and the Board of Stamps and Taxes.

Understanding the Inland Revenue

The Inland Revenue was first established in the United Kingdom in 1849. In 2005, the department merged with Her Majesty's (HM) Customs and Excise to form HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The Inland Revenue was an 1849 amalgamation of two former government boards—the Board of Excise and the Board of Stamps and Taxes.

The Board of Excise, established in 1643, was in charge of collecting duties that were levied at the point of manufacturing rather than the point of sale on certain British products. The Board of Stamps and Taxes was preceded by two separate boards that were formally combined in 1834.

  1. One of the boards was the Tax Board, which was set up in 1665. The earlier taxes imposed by this board included land and house taxes. Income taxes were later introduced in the late 1700s and early 1800s in several different formats, largely to support Britain’s war efforts. In 1816, due to widespread public protest, the government was forced to abolish income taxes. However, they were reintroduced in 1842 and are now renewed yearly in the Finance Act.
  2. The second board was the Board of Stamps established in 1694. This board served to collect stamp duties, which were imposed on various items at the point of sale.

Once the Inland Revenue was established, it handled the collection of taxes, including income and capital gains tax, corporate tax, inheritance tax, and stamp duty. Until 1909, the Inland Revenue managed the excise affairs of the nation. However, matters relating to excise were transferred in 1909 to a new board (the Board of Customs and Excise) was established.

The Inland Revenue administered certain payments that were available to eligible recipients. Since 2003, a benefit called the Working Tax Credit (WTC) has been provided to working individuals, couples, or families with low income. Another credit system previously handled by the Inland Revenue is the Child Tax Credit, which was paid to families by the Inland Revenue until the inception of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

HMRC now handles all the duties previously conducted by both the Inland Revenue and the Board of Customs and Excise, bringing all of the nation’s taxation-related matters under the auspices of one department. Some of the responsibilities of the HMRC include making sure that money is available to fund the public system in the United Kingdom and providing for families that need financial assistance, administering statutory sick pay and statutory maternity leave, facilitating legitimate international trade, recovering student loan repayments, and administering Child Benefit.

HMRC seeks to maximize revenues, and one of the ways it accomplishes this objective is by cracking down on tax avoidance by fixing loopholes in its tax policy. HMRC designed the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) to identify what types of tax avoidance schemes are in circulation. This requires the promoter (i.e., the person who designs or markets the scheme) of a scheme to disclose its main elements to HMRC. The HMRC department reviews and amends the current tax policy to block any schemes that the government considers unfair. This way, the tax policy is consistently amended to minimize individuals' and corporations' chances of avoiding taxes.