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Taxes on Knowledge
Taxes on knowledge

This was the phrase used by critics to describe the various duties imposed by governments on nineteenth-century newspapers. The effect of these ‘taxes’ was to inflate the cover price of newspapers, thereby reducing their public availability. Abolition of these ‘taxes on knowledge’, along with developments in postal services, expansion of markets and advertising revenues, improvements in printing technology and the spread of working-class literacy, was a precondition for the emergence of modern mass circulation newspapers (Black, 2002: 171–200).

The advertising duty which taxed all newspaper advertisements was abolished in 1853, the newspaper stamp duty which imposed a fixed levy on the sale of each copy of a newspaper was withdrawn in 1855, while the paper duties which taxed the paper on which ...

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