The History of Hong Kong Stamp Duty and its Influence on the Modern Law
Butt, Yiu Yu
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
18 months of embargo placed from the day of graduation of 19 July 2017. The work is to be published as a research monograph.
In 1866, the Hong Kong colonial government imposed stamp duty on written instruments. The tax was imposed for 132 years during the British rule of Hong Kong and was retained by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region after the 1997 transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from Britain to China. Despite the vast number of textbooks written on the application of the contemporary Hong Kong stamp duty law, little is known about the driving forces that lay behind the first imposition of stamp duty in Hong Kong and the forces that shaped its development in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Little is revealed by the successes or failures of various stamp duty laws enacted to fulfil these forces. In order to deal with the knowledge gaps, this study uses the legal historical method and the legal comparative method to reconstruct an interpretation of stamp duty legal history for investigation. The study reveals that the first imposition of the tax was driven by the primary imperative to raise revenue followed by a secondary demand for social equity. It also reveals that the provisions of the first Hong Kong stamp duty legislation were influenced by local political demands occasioned by events leading to the American Revolution in the eighteenth century. The study demonstrates that, along with the dominant financial impetus, other social, economic, political, sustainability and pragmatic forces also shaped the stamp duty system under British rule. Social and economic forces supplemented the financial impetus from the 1960s onwards as key drivers for stamp duty legislative change. The study examines the explicit and discerned objectives of various historical Hong Kong Stamp Ordinances in terms of the actual outcomes. The analysis reveals many novel lessons in stamp duty system design. The study also demonstrates that Hong Kong should not abolish its stamp duty system at the present time.
PhD in Law