‘Tax and Pharmacy: A Synergy in Professional Evolution’
Reason for embargo
The substance and form of taxes, and the way they are administered, have always had potentially profound social effects that were often entirely unforeseen by the legislators introducing them into the fiscal regime. The role of a tax in the social process of professionalisation in the long nineteenth century was one such effect. The medicine stamp duty was introduced in 1783 by a government in urgent need of new sources of public revenue and seeing an opportunity in the immensely popular phenomenon of proprietary medicines. These were medicines with secret compositions and exaggerated claims for their efficacy, invented and sold to the public by unqualified individuals popularly known as quacks. This article shows that by granting chemists and druggists a privileged position within its statutory framework, the tax recognised them as a skilled occupational group and affirmed their position as guardians of legitimate pharmaceutical practice. It also shows how the tax was an early and powerful catalyst for occupational unity as the chemists and druggists came together to oppose it. The article concludes that despite these two positive effects of the tax on the occupational coherence of chemists and druggists, the most powerful effect of the tax was a negative one. Unambiguously a tax on a commodity, the medicine stamp duty increased the commercial character of chemists and druggists that was proving the most potent obstacle to full professionalisation, and served to reinforce the general perception of chemists and druggists as mere traders rather than skilled professionals.
This is the final author version of a book chapter, deposited by permission of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. The definitive version appears in 'Studies in the History of Tax Law, Volume 7. Edited by: Peter Harris, Dominic de Cogan. http://www.hartpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?ISBN=9781849467988
Please cite the definitive version
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Hart Publishing
Place of publication