HIDE AND ANIMAL SLAUGHTER TAXES, 1789-1793
The hide tax of 1789 was passed by the Four Years Seym primarily with the intention of giving the treasury a fresh source of revenue: the money was badly needed for the reformers' ambitious plans to beef up the army to 100,000 men. At the same time it was expected that the charge would curb the much criticized practice of shipping raw hides abroad and bringing them back after treatment (thus bypassing the local tanners). After the hide tax was passed by a very narrow margin on 2 November 1789, its implementation was duly handed over to the twin Treasury Commissions of Poland and Lithuania. Since the tax was to be levied both as a duty and in kind, its collection proved to be extraordinarily cumbersome and messy. The Commissions soon ran out of storage for the hides and as allegations of malpractice and fraud multiplied the Seym decided to revise the provisions of the illfamed act. On 12 April 1791 the hide tax was changed into an excise duty on animals slaughtered in towns and a extra charge added to the hearthtax in the country-side. Eventually, on 23 November 1793 the slaughter duty and surcharge were abolished by the Seym of Grodno in all but a few bigger towns in Poland and Lithuania.
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