Jump to content

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

redtree

Tax System in Westeros

Recommended Posts

I don't recall any mention about tax system in the book. How does it work ?



Based on rank there are minor lord, overlord and the royal family.


Let's assume the tax rates for the commoner is 50%, do they pay all of it to their minor lord or maybe 50/50 between overlord and minor lord ? How about the royals, do they get gold income from area that are not theirs or maybe they just get shares from the overlord? I thought that if the royal gets percentage from all of the citizens then they should be the richest, but fact is they are not, even in Targaryen era great houses like Lannister and Tyrell were richer compared to the royal so that theory is not possible



Minor house like Hightower, Redwynn and Manderly are said to be equally even richer than their overlord who gets income from other minor houses so is it possible that the overlord doesn't give tax to the minor lords ? Do these great houses pays anything to the royals ?



What do you think ?


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't recall any mention about tax system in the book. How does it work ?

Based on rank there are minor lord, overlord and the royal family.

Let's assume the tax rates for the commoner is 50%, do they pay all of it to their minor lord or maybe 50/50 between overlord and minor lord ? How about the royals, do they get gold income from area that are not theirs or maybe they just get shares from the overlord? I thought that if the royal gets percentage from all of the citizens then they should be the richest, but fact is they are not, even in Targaryen era great houses like Lannister and Tyrell were richer compared to the royal so that theory is not possible

Minor house like Hightower, Redwynn and Manderly are said to be equally even richer than their overlord who gets income from other minor houses so is it possible that the overlord doesn't give tax to the minor lords ? Do these great houses pays anything to the royals ?

What do you think ?

This is one of those "correct me if I am wrong" things, but:

When a feudal overlord gives an underlord (Starks to Boltons for example) the rights to a land, it means that the underlord will be in complete control of those areas, including getting all the taxes. Though a lot of "taxes" would be paid as goods (like foodstuff) or by the peasants working for the overlord in different projects. The whole economy isn't completely monetized. In exchange the overlord will expect the underlord to obey him and most importantly gather forces for military campaigns.

Lords who control significant tradeports get a good deal of money from tariffs, ie. certain cut on the value of the goods that go through those ports. If I recall correctly a good bit of Manderly silver from tariffs did go to the Iron Throne as taxes (those redirected taxes were used to build the Manderly fleet).

So the royal house would get very limited amount of money from their direct underlords and practically nothing from everyone below them. There'd probably be possibilities to levy special taxes from the lords if need be, but those would of course be hugely unpopular (as Kevan thinks that any more taxes could well make many lords rebel). And of course apparently the Royal house gets a cut of the tariffs for trade too.

Lannisters are rich because they have gold for a good part. Gold is a special kind of good as you can create currency out of it (obviously).

E: I looked up the bit on Manderly silver:

As windy as he[Wyman Manderly] was vast, he began by asking Winterfell to confirm the new customs officers he had appointed for White Harbor. The old ones had been holding back silver for King's Landing rather than paying it over to the new King in the North. "King Robb needs his own coinage as well," he declared, "and White Harbor is the very place to mint it." He offered to take charge of the matter, as it please the king, and went from that to speak of how he had strengthened the port's defenses, detailing the cost of every improvement. [bran II aCoK]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is one of those "correct me if I am wrong" things, but:

When a feudal overlord gives an underlord (Starks to Boltons for example) the rights to a land, it means that the underlord will be in complete control of those areas, including getting all the taxes. Though a lot of "taxes" would be paid as goods (like foodstuff) or by the peasants working for the overlord in different projects. The whole economy isn't completely monetized. In exchange the overlord will expect the underlord to obey him and most importantly gather forces for military campaigns.

Lords who control significant tradeports get a good deal of money from tariffs, ie. certain cut on the value of the goods that go through those ports. If I recall correctly a good bit of Manderly silver from tariffs did go to the Iron Throne as taxes (those redirected taxes were used to build the Manderly fleet).

So the royal house would get very limited amount of money from their direct underlords and practically nothing from everyone below them. There'd probably be possibilities to levy special taxes from the lords if need be, but those would of course be hugely unpopular (as Kevan thinks that any more taxes could well make many lords rebel). And of course apparently the Royal house gets a cut of the tariffs for trade too.

Lannisters are rich because they have gold for a good part. Gold is a special kind of good as you can create currency out of it (obviously).

But doesn't it get mentioned that taxes are paid to the Iron Throne, or Winterfell in Robb's kingdom? I admit to ignorance on this subject, but I'm sure that that is mentioned every now and again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But doesn't it get mentioned that taxes are paid to the Iron Throne, or Winterfell in Robb's kingdom? I admit to ignorance on this subject, but I'm sure that that is mentioned every now and again.

Well I would assume (yet again I am no expert) that the overlords/king can indeed levy special taxes (or just demand lump sums from their underlords if really need be). Those taxes would still be a lot smaller than the value what the peasants would pay to the taxed underlord of their own.

Actually looking at quotes from the books it does indeed become obvious that underlords do pay their overlords some taxes, and that the king collects his own taxes from the different regions. I would still assume that these taxes aren't very high, if only because of the state of development of the economy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First things first: Forget anything about percentages. That doesn't work. You'd need a way more evolved bureaucracy for that. Then forget about coin. It's rarely used, almost everything is paid in kind.


Furthermore, forget that idea you have about ranks of Lordship. Doesn't exist.



A couple of probable taxes:


- Serfs paying one chicken per year to the local Lord/knight, in exchange for juidicial representation if needed.


- Workhours. 40 days per year working on the fields of the local Lord/knight.


- Roof tax. That hits mostly urban citizens and nobles, it's based on the size of (tiled) roofs, since that could be easily controlled.


- Mills. One sack for the miller, one sack for the Lord, eight sacks for the farmer.


- Inheritance taxes.


- Marriage taxes.


All of them mostly localized.



What the Lords and kings far away get are mostly tariffs on ports, bridges and roads.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Smallfolk pay rents to their immediate lords. Rents may be in the form of cash, labour service, or produce. Lords who own entire cities, or large towns, like the Lannisters, Hightowers, Manderlys, Arryns, would enjoy phenomenal rental incomes. Lords also enjoy the profits of their domain lands, and presumably, derive substantial amounts of money from administering justice in their lands.



Taxes are presumably levied by the government in Kings Landing. I doubt if there's any income tax. But, there are customs duties levied at all the major ports in Westeros. Wine from the Arbour seems to be heavily taxed, for example. Rents from Kings Landing are presumably also a big source of income for the government, and the profits of the Crownlands. In a feudal society, there are likely a variety of levies imposed on the lords, like contributing to the marriages of members of the royal family, fees for inheriting lands or obtaining wardships, and payments of money in lieu of serving in war or contributing soldiers.



I expect that royal taxes are collected by a mix of royal tax collectors and local lords. Doubtless, graft is endemic in the system, and Kings Landing only gets a fraction of what they're supposed to get - hence their financial problems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The world book indicates that the Crown has a large influence on tariffs, regulating and presumably taking a large piece of that action. - Which does make sense, as you don't want your ports to differ in regard to their levels of taxation.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Random real history question for those on the forum: How were taxes collected when economic development was still such that a large portion of the transactions were on a barter basis?


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Random real history question for those on the forum: How were taxes collected when economic development was still such that a large portion of the transactions were on a barter basis?

They used Tithes that differed region to region

An area would be evaluated for its productivity and a vaule would be set for the amount of goods that needed to be given up to the lord.A land that produces lots of goods would have a higher tithe vaule and such more would be taken making the lord richer (Highgarden).Poor regions would have a lower tithe grade as they are unable to produce as much (The North in general)

These values would change depending on certain circumstances (higher/lower crop yields/wars and such)

A tithe was generally 1/10 but could be higher

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting topic/responses.



I'll add that taxes also depend on the tax collectors, who would have to make a subjective determination about the value of certain stretches of land and the amount owed.



We also have the Winterfell harvest festival, where the Stark bannermen/women (who aren't in the south with Robb) come with gifts and grievances. It seems like attendance is expected/required, so I'd imagine there's a tax component to that as well.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting topic/responses.

I'll add that taxes also depend on the tax collectors, who would have to make a subjective determination about the value of certain stretches of land and the amount owed.

We also have the Winterfell harvest festival, where the Stark bannermen/women (who aren't in the south with Robb) come with gifts and grievances. It seems like attendance is expected/required, so I'd imagine there's a tax component to that as well.

I think the Festival is more about unity then taxes.Considering how far apart most lords are its a chance to reaffirm your bonds and also a chance for marriages.Drink and eat with the Starks and stay connected to them (New children being welcomed and such)

Ned Stark does say "know your men and let them know you don't ask them to die for a stranger"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Random real history question for those on the forum: How were taxes collected when economic development was still such that a large portion of the transactions were on a barter basis?

Methods varied. Some states (eg Roman Republic) would sell the right to tax an area to a consortium in return for cash up front. Others (eg Chinese Empire) had a bureaucracy that investigated what each area produced and then levy a percentage. Usually tax collection was done through local landowners or town councillors, who had to make up any shortfall, but had plenty of opportunities to turn a profit from it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Methods varied. Some states (eg Roman Republic) would sell the right to tax an area to a consortium in return for cash up front. Others (eg Chinese Empire) had a bureaucracy that investigated what each area produced and then levy a percentage. Usually tax collection was done through local landowners or town councillors, who had to make up any shortfall, but had plenty of opportunities to turn a profit from it.

Hm..in Westeros they might be called....Aldermen?That's what Europeans called then

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I would really love to see a sheriff of Nothingham (or the Wolfswood, Barrowlands, Stony Shore etc in this case) actually mentioned in the books.

I would imagine that there are thousands of tax collectors running around the North, collecting taxes for various lords. Right down to the petty lord or landed knight who collects taxes from his one village.

Yet again an example of Martin not really practicing what he preaches. He said Tolien should have focused more on Aragorn's tax policies, rather than just saying he ruled wisely for 100 years, but Martin himself spends no time explaining his own tax policies in Westeros.

Just like he said Tolkien should not have brought Gandalf back from the dead, only to bring back Beric, Catelyn Stark and soon Jon Snow from the dead himself.

So yes. The tax system is severely under developed. Just like the ruling beaurocracy in general. How big is the Stark administration again? Ah yes, it consists of Maester Luwin. Who singlehandedly manages the administrative aspects of ruling a million square mile kingdom - larger than France, Germany, Britain, Austria and Italy combined.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I would really love to see a sheriff of Nothingham (or the Wolfswood, Barrowlands, Stony Shore etc in this case) actually mentioned in the books.

I would imagine that there are thousands of tax collectors running around the North, collecting taxes for various lords. Right down to the petty lord or landed knight who collects taxes from his one village.

Yet again an example of Martin not really practicing what he preaches. He said Tolien should have focused more on Aragorn's tax policies, rather than just saying he ruled wisely for 100 years, but Martin himself spends no time explaining his own tax policies in Westeros.

Just like he said Tolkien should not have brought Gandalf back from the dead, only to bring back Beric, Catelyn Stark and soon Jon Snow from the dead himself.

So yes. The tax system is severely under developed. Just like the ruling beaurocracy in general. How big is the Stark administration again? Ah yes, it consists of Maester Luwin. Who singlehandedly manages the administrative aspects of ruling a million square mile kingdom - larger than France, Germany, Britain, Austria and Italy combined.

Luwin was a badass xp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I would really love to see a sheriff of Nothingham (or the Wolfswood, Barrowlands, Stony Shore etc in this case) actually mentioned in the books.

I would imagine that there are thousands of tax collectors running around the North, collecting taxes for various lords. Right down to the petty lord or landed knight who collects taxes from his one village.

Yet again an example of Martin not really practicing what he preaches. He said Tolien should have focused more on Aragorn's tax policies, rather than just saying he ruled wisely for 100 years, but Martin himself spends no time explaining his own tax policies in Westeros.

Just like he said Tolkien should not have brought Gandalf back from the dead, only to bring back Beric, Catelyn Stark and soon Jon Snow from the dead himself.

So yes. The tax system is severely under developed. Just like the ruling beaurocracy in general. How big is the Stark administration again? Ah yes, it consists of Maester Luwin. Who singlehandedly manages the administrative aspects of ruling a million square mile kingdom - larger than France, Germany, Britain, Austria and Italy combined.

Writers can get bogged down in world-building. I'm willing to fill in the gaps.

I'm sure that Luwin and Vayon Poole had people working for them. But, even as late as the 19th century, cabinet ministers had very small staffs by modern standards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, by sacrificing the number of words spent on describing a single meal, of which there are dozens, each described in excruciating detail, Martin could have outlined for us the tax system of the entire Westeros.



So no real bogging down required. Just giving us half a page of the key aspects thereof.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, by sacrificing the number of words spent on describing a single meal, of which there are dozens, each described in excruciating detail, Martin could have outlined for us the tax system of the entire Westeros.

So no real bogging down required. Just giving us half a page of the key aspects thereof.

I need to have the pig someone is eating described in perfect detail.About how the skin is browned to the point of cracking and crisp yet the meat is succulent tender and juicy and,what kind of dipping sauce is used.Is it a spiced plum dipping sauce then describe the color taste and texture of said sauce then describe how the pig tastes in the sauce.Then take a sip of wine from your jeweled pewter goblet and describe what color the wine is then have Tyrion muse about the vintage and have him guess as to were it's from what year it was made and does he detect a hint of oranges?

Lol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×