The Stamp Tax took effect on November 1, 1765. The Stamp Tax was first direct tax to be levied on the American colonies. It was the first serious attempt to assert British governmental authority over the 13 colonies.
Stamp Tax Facts
The year the British Stamp Tax was passed 1765. The Stamp Tax called for the taxing of 54 separate items. Documents subject to the Stamp Tax of 1765 included newspapers, liquor licenses, legal documents, calendars. almanacs, certificates, diplomas, contracts, wills, Bills of Sale and Licenses
The documents required different rates of Stamp tax ranging from ½ penny up to £10
Dice were the only non-paper items listed under the 1765 Act and stamp impressions were made on the dice as proof that the Stamp Tax had been paid
As the Stamp Tax applied to both playing cards and dice this was viewed as an indirect tax on gambling
The Stamp Tax Stamps were not like the stamps that we put on envelopes. Some documents were printed on, stamped, or embossed on paper
The French and Indian War was a victory for the British but they were left with a massive war debt of 130 million pounds. One of the reasons the Stamp Tax was introduced was to clear the war debt. The policy of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Grenville, was to raise revenue by taxing the American colonists, rather than taxing the people in Great Britain. The main purpose of the Act was to raise revenue to pay for the British military presence in the American colonies
The Stamp Tax stated that any publications in 'foreign tongues' had to pay twice the normal rates
Newspapers were taxed according to their size - any advertisements were also taxed!
The Stamp Tax Stamps had to be paid with 'hard currency' (silver or gold coins) and not in paper money, which was the most common form of payment in the colonies. Failure to pay Stamp Taxes incurred penalties, fines and forfeitures. The fines ranged from £2 up to £10. Anyone involved in the counterfeit of documents to avoid the taxes faced the Death Penalty
There was no Trial by Jury for anyone who offended the Stamp Tax - cases were heard in the Admiralty Courts. There was no trial by jury in the Admiralty Courts. Cases were decided by judges rather than juries
The Repeal of the Stamp Tax is approved by the House of Commons in February 1766
The British Act led to outrage, anger, resentment, protests, dissension and ultimately to the American Revolutionary War and the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.