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Thread: Fun with Taxes!

  1. #1
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    Fun with Taxes!

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    I created this for WFRP but they can be quickly applied to any fantasy game. It's based on parts from an old AD&D book. Don't remember which one.

    Everyday Taxes

    These are taxes which are collected whenever they are applicable.

    Consumption Tax

    This is a typical sales tax. In many parts of the Empire a small tax is charged on every transaction It's normally paid to a merchant in addition to the normal cost of the transaction. Merchants are then charged this percentage of their profits separately. The standard rate for this tax is normally between 5-10%. Thats about a half-pence to a penny for shilling spent, or a shilling or two to every crown. In most situations where the bill is so small as to make collection problematic, merchants tend to run a tax tab or simply will occasionally overcharge to make up the difference.

    Luxury Tax

    Because of feudal privilege, the Imperial authorities often have to look to other means to get money out of the noble classes. As such they're always looking for ways to get that extra pound of flesh from the ruling class. One such method is to tax the sale of certain high end items. Items such as rare furs, jewelry, silks, and spices are considered to be luxuries. While the tax on these items is rarely fixed, as the 'Luxury Tax' tends to be a series of individual taxes on various luxury goods, they tend to be around 10-20% and are applied on top of any normal sales taxes.

    Inheritance Tax

    All property, goods, and wealth inherited by a person is subject to a tax between 5% and 15% of the value of the estate. This tax is paid only once, however, additional taxes can be applied if the property is passed on another beneficiary. The nobility is exempt from the Inheritance tax, much to the regret of the authorities.

    Tolls

    There are countless minor tolls through the empire to be paid on roads, bridges, or city gates. They tend to vary vastly, but a safe average is usually a shilling or two per person. One popular method is a shilling per leg.

    Monthly Taxes

    These type of taxes are due about once a month, as described below.

    Market Festival Tax

    Many towns in the Empire have a monthly Market Festival. On that day, traveling peddlers, nomadic entertainers, and other groups that are normally considered undesirables are invited into the city to set up shop for one day, abet under guard. The amusements and exotic wears they bring with them tend to attract people from all around the area to attend. In addition, most local merchants usually choose the market festival day to display their new wears as to take advantage of the crowds. On this day, entry to the market normally has a charge of between 1-5p. There are rarely any complaints about the Market Festival Tax as all that would need to be done to silence them is to threaten to cancel the festival. Attempts of dodge it though is often problematic and can sometimes be pandemic. To ensure payment, in many towns, any side entrances to the market are blockaded and those who pay the entry fee may be stamped to show that they have paid. Anyone found trying to illegally enter the market, or found in the square without a stamp (or a good reason) is fined heavily.

    Yearly Taxes

    These taxes are only collected once a year, usually at different times to soften the financial blow.

    Hearth Tax

    Once a year, every building in the Empire is assessed for a hearth tax. The higher quality the building, the higher the tax. This tax can vary drastically from only a handful of pennies for a simple peasant hovel, to hundreds of gold for a privately owned palace. In many parts of the empire, the nobility are exempt from the Hearth Tax.

    Land Tax

    One of the most popular taxes in the Empire, at least for the nobility, is the Land Tax. One a year the value of every piece of settled land in the Empire is assessed for function and the legal owner of that acreage is taxed on its use and value. The more useful, developed, or conveniently located the land, the more its taxed. In most parts of the Empire, the Nobility is exempt from the land tax due to Feudal Privilege.

    Here are some average taxes per acre
    Barren: 1/2f
    Water: 1f
    Uncultivated/Woodland 1f
    Cultivated: 2f
    Urban: 6f
    Walled*: 1s
    * Walled counts any land within defensive fortifications, such as a walled city.

    Heraldry Tax

    Once a year, everyone that wishes to display a distinct and unique seal, banner, or coat of arms must pay 5 crowns to the authorities in order to ensure that it is protected. This tax covers everything from the coats-of-arms of noble houses and knights, to the unique banners of mercenary companies, to the official seals of guilds and trading houses. If the tax is not paid, then duplicating the symbol is not a crime. As such this tax is taken very seriously by all involved.

    The Tithe

    Once a year, all produce, rents, and profits from the lands themselves are taxed at a rate of about 10%. This mostly affects rich landowners and, therefore, the nobility.

    Income Tax

    Once a year, every person in the Empire's income is assessed and they are required to pay around 5% of their yearly income in taxes. This tax is highly resented and people will normally do all they can to avoid paying it. In times of lean, it can and has lead to peasant revolt.

    Sword Tax

    One of the more common local or regional taxes in the Empire is the Sword Tax. It exists as both a way of making money and of keeping an eye on the amounts of arms circulating in the area. If people in a troubled area are buying a great number of weapons, then it is a reliable sign of revolution.

    Under the Sword Tax, every ax, bow, spear, firearm, or blade longer than a dagger is taxed at a rate of one shilling per weapon. Some communities have a exception that prevents people such as hunters, woodsman, soldiers, state militia, and merchants for being taxed on tool of their trade or unsold wares. These weapons are still recorded though. Mercenaries do not count.

    Some unscrupulous bailiffs are known to use the Sword Tax to extort money from travelers.

    Licenses and Fees

    Many national, state, and local authorities require various fees to be paid to allow people to go about their daily business.

    Beggar’s License

    For many begging is a profitable way of life, and the authorities are quite aware of this fact. As such, in many areas all beggars must pay 2 or 3 shillings per season for a license to beg that must be renewed every three months. Those begging without a license, are fined and/or jailed.

    Manufacturer’s License

    In some areas, any manufacturer of goods must have a license in order to produce. The costs depends on the nature and scale of the operation, being between six shillings and two crowns per year for most smaller operations to hundreds of crowns for vast operations such as canon foundries. It should be noted that this only allows commercial production, it does not insure fair competition

    School License

    Anyone who wishes to open a school or academy and charge tuition open must pay one crown plus an additional shilling per student per year. Schools run by temples and non-profit community funded by donation are exempt.

    In most parts of the Empire, a sufficient bribe, usually about 100 crowns is enough to have the school be given a Provincial or Imperial Charter making them exempt.

    Tradesman's License

    Like the aformationed Manufacturer’s Licenses, tradesmen who create perishable goods such as beer, wine, bread, etc., or harvest natural resources for personal profit, such as woodsman, hunters, miners, and charcoal burners, must also have a license to do so. As above, the tax depends on the scale of the operation, from 6 shillings for a local baker, to hundreds of gold for a massive mining operation.

    Guild Licenses

    In most Imperial towns, the local guilds claim the right to regulate trade in the local area. As a rule, the nobility recognize this right. This allow the guilds to set prices, determine who is permitted to sell their goods or services, and establish minimum quality standards. The nobles of course expect to be compensated for their trust. The exact percentage due to the state differs depending on location and services rendered, but 5% of annual profits tends to be the average.

    Monopoly Licenses

    In the Empire, monopolies are rare and in most situations can only be granted by the local baron or provincial Elector Count, and then are usually only granted to personal friends or people who have done a great favor to the state (such as a giving a very generous donation to the Count in question). The official yearly maintenance fees needed to maintain a monopoly in a given area tend to be rather low, but the personal gifts and free services rendered in thanks usually account for a great deal more. It should be noted that those who do not show sufficiency 'thanks' to the count or baron in question for their magnanimity often find their monopoly revoked, or even worse, given to someone who will.

    Legal Fees and Duties

    Civil actions are not entirely uncommon in the Empire, and are a separate entity from the criminal courts. While details differ from province to province, to bring a suit to the civil court costs about 10 shillings for the privilege and the amount in dispute must be no less than 10-50 crowns (depending on province).

    The loser of a suit must pay the court 10% of the amount sued for, in addition to the claim, and claim money counts as taxable income.

    Also, all legal documents prepared by the court cost 5 shillings each, to be paid by the plaintiff, the price of which will be reimbursed as part of the claim, should the defendant loose the case.

    Commerce Duties

    These taxes relate directly to doing business in a feudal society.

    Import Tax

    All goods imported into a kingdom are assessed an average tax of 1 penny piece per 100 pounds of cargo. While this may seem to be a minuscule amount, it adds up when shiploads of cargo are in question.

    Port Harborage

    Every ship is charged 1 silver piece per day for a birth in the public harbor. Private marinas often charge much, much more.

    Import License

    Every shipment of goods brought into a country must have a license. Normal goods cost about 1 gold piece per shipment to register, while valuable commodities like spices and wines often cost twice that amount, or 2 gold pieces per shipment.

    “Coming and Going” Tax

    Naturally, any ship or caravan leaving the country is also charged 10 silver pieces per vehicle.

    Moneylenders’ Surtax

    Bankers and other financial institutions are taxed about 5% of their profits per year. This is one circumstance where the Royal Exchequer often takes a personal hand in verifying the accounting books of an institution, especially a rich one.
    Last edited by Psyckosama; 07-26-2010 at 09:44 PM.

  2. #2
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    I am still amazed by the number of people that believe that historical begging is considered either a profession or being profitable. Only in modern times and in prosperous countries (think First World) can beggers beg as a choice and actually make any money. In the rest of the world, as well as what is documented in all nations' histories, begging is purely a means to survive. There isn't any "thrive" involved.

    Second item, a place a ship or boat parks is called a "berth". If you use an "i," the vessel is coming out of a woman's hoo-hoo.

    Third, you've totally given adventurers a pass on this one. If I pay my sword tax and go out to slay the dragon and come back with ten wagons full of hoard... he only has to pay about 13 gold, one silver, and then 5% of the loot. This has to be a total typo or you are not basing this on any flavor of historic example at all. Tax rates for peasants were usually in the 75-90% range. If you intend to use a plan like this, adventurers should be taxed the highest, as the possibility of extraordinary incomes is the greatest. Skippy the Farmer is only going to "earn" about 20 bushels of grain per year - leaving him just enough to survive but not enough to get fat and plan a revolt. Tardok the Adventurer may only earn a couple of scars this year... or he may earn a bazillion gold and twelve levels... which makes him a potential threat.

    Your concept needs a LOT more work, and a LOT more study before it comes close to resembling anything close to what has been seen in history.

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    Ahem...

    It's based on parts from an old AD&D book

    That's the keyword there.

  4. #4
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    I never said that old D&D books were sacrosanct and never utterly wrong. I've used lots from old books - but fixed stuff to jive with reality, history and common sense.

    That's why I responded as I did.

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    Think really big!

    Good call though. There are a multitude of taxes waiting to be exercised by an ambitious tax collector.
    In the ancient world, particularly Imperial Rome, the position of tax collector for a region (or city if large enough) was appointed by the regent (rarely) or purchased (either flat rate or a percentage of the ‘take’). The differences are slight. Appointments go to cronies, henchmen, or relatives; often there was a kickback involved. The purchase gives cash to the regent ‘up front’ and the cost if the purchase is ‘recovered’ over the year. In both cases, anything in excess of the amount expected at the capitol went into the packet of the office holder.
    This means that the more aggressive the tax collection- the more money comes TO THE COLLECTOR, not the government. Remember that in the Robin Hood folklore it wasn’t King John who laid the heaviest fines. That was for the Sheriff of Nottingham to levy the highest taxes (and fines) to curry (buy) the favor of the king. John was weak; the Sheriff was allowed to run rampant with taxation.
    Now, how to use this power? A new tax to pay for the replacement of the ‘old bridge’. A new tax for the upgrade of arms and livery for the city guard. How about a tax to help pay for that foreign war? Another to ‘show an appreciation for the king’ and “donate’ an expensive gift to the king on his birthday. Yet more to buy arms for the Prince, who has just come of age. A Tea Tax, a Stamp Act, inheritance, and a pun tax. A fee for wearing a weapon. A fee for the right to wear a weapon. A fee for attending court. A fine for NOT attending court. If it moves, fine or fee it. If it doesn’t move, tax it. If it objects, fine it. If it threatens you, apologize profusely to his lordship and look for easier prey.
    In short, ANYTHING can be a source for enriching the government and separating the wealth from those hard working adventurers!
    Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.
    - Edward Everett

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    However it isn't much fun on the player end when the DM starts nickeling dieing me to death. We might go out of character and decide that a player's revolt is in order.

    I have taxes in my world, they are usually folded into what ever transactions you deal with and I don't trouble the play of the game with same. About the only time I am going to bring taxes front and center is if taxes are the reason for the current plot. It is necessary to show how the local authority is abusing the people or some such.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
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    I play warhammer FRP. It's one of those games where you want to be torturing the player like that.
    Last edited by Psyckosama; 09-09-2010 at 07:06 AM.

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    Ok, I just wanted to say that I don't think that you can use the words fun and taxes together. I definately don't find it fun when I have to prepare and/or pay them.

  9. #9
    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    Quote Originally Posted by tesral View Post
    However it isn't much fun on the player end when the DM starts nickeling dieing me to death. We might go out of character and decide that a player's revolt is in order.

    I have taxes in my world, they are usually folded into what ever transactions you deal with and I don't trouble the play of the game with same. About the only time I am going to bring taxes front and center is if taxes are the reason for the current plot. It is necessary to show how the local authority is abusing the people or some such.
    It actually works quite well in WFRP - if done right - w/o taking away the fun-factor and flavor with the players and the DM. Besides, it forces players to become clever, which just adds another element of fun for everyone involved.
    Thoth-Amon, Lord of the Underworld and the Undead
    Once you know what the magician knows, it's not magick. It's a 'tool of Creation'. -Archmagus H.H.
    The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility. - Meridjet

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    For a certain quality of fun. I would agree more fun than a root canal operation. I the GM do not wish to work that hard. Taxes to my opinion fall into the same category as in game bathroom breaks. We know everyone does it, but how much fun is role-playing it? Likewise unless the PCs are in a position where how much food they have matters I don't bring up the issue of food.

    Do I consider these issues? Yes. Ask me what a Centaur toilet looks like, I can tell you. However I'm not in the habit of bringing it up unless it comes up.

    Bob: "These Centaurs have pissed me off, I'm going to plug their toilet up."

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    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    Ugh! DnD players - and the like - will never understand WFRP until they have played in a campaign.
    Thoth-Amon, Lord of the Underworld and the Undead
    Once you know what the magician knows, it's not magick. It's a 'tool of Creation'. -Archmagus H.H.
    The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility. - Meridjet

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arch Lich Thoth-Amon View Post
    Ugh! DnD players - and the like - will never understand WFRP until they have played in a campaign.
    Seyla.

    If doesn't involve hitting something with an axe or being the big damned hero and they just don't get it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arch Lich Thoth-Amon View Post
    Ugh! DnD players - and the like - will never understand WFRP until they have played in a campaign.
    The whole Warhammer setting has never appealed to me. I want something besides war and hiting things with an ax to drive society. Besides the miniatures are downright ugly and Bretons have lousy archery form.

    Last two sessions they have not fought a bloody thing, but everyone is on the edge of their seat. A huge earthquake has struck and New City is burning. What do they have to solve that?

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tesral View Post
    The whole Warhammer setting has never appealed to me. I want something besides war and hiting things with an ax to drive society. Besides the miniatures are downright ugly and Bretons have lousy archery form.
    In other words you know absolutely nothing about the setting itself and are judging it completely according to the war game.

    Last two sessions they have not fought a bloody thing, but everyone is on the edge of their seat. A huge earthquake has struck and New City is burning. What do they have to solve that?
    It's D&D. Wiggle their wands and cast a spell to make it rain.

    edit made due to this being a forum that is open to the general public. P&PG doesn't need any bad publicity due to a choice of wording.
    Last edited by cplmac; 09-12-2010 at 11:38 AM.

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    Then you know nothing about D&D, or my game in particular. Shoe is on the other foot.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    The Dean of Old School
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