Why "Inland" Revenue Service?

Most American dopers will probably enter this thread to correct me.

However, I’m not talking about the Internal Revenue Service (ie. the agency which collects domestic tax revenue on behalf of the US government). I’m talking about the Inland Revenue Service, which does the same thing on behalf of the British government.

Why “inland”?

Why not just “Revenue Service”?

I’m guessing it has something to do with Ship Money (tax levied on English coastal towns beginning in the Middle Ages to pay for coastal defence and the navy).

Am I right?

Actually the full title of this august body is now…

HM Revenue & Customs

and I got a tax refund cheque last week for £71.25 :smiley: gawd bless 'em

I just assumed the Brits were using the word “inland” in same way we USAians use “internal”. That the concern of the agency referenced is revenue gathered from inside the body politic, from citizens and other taxable persons, as opposed to revenue from outside sources such as the result of dealings between governments.

But I’m not even an expert on USA taxes, let alone British taxes, so that’s just a guess.

Looks like that might be the right answer. Following chowder’s point, I looked at the HM Revenue & Customs site and noted that said body exists as the result of a merger between the Inland Revenue Service and HM Custom and Excise.

Still doesn’t really explain why the term “inland” would be preferred over “internal” or “domestic” or “public” or whatever.

Benny Hill had a bit about people on the coast not having to pay.

Aren’t those the same people who used to construct fake lighthouses, so ships would run aground? :slight_smile:

They sent me one for £453.52 the other day, the lovely people. 'Course it was my money to begin with, but still…

You’re all approaching this the wrong way round. The oddity is not that the UK had an ‘Inland’ Revenue but that the US has an ‘Internal’ Revenue Service.

Although the Inland Revenue itself was only created in the nineteenth century, the use of the word ‘inland’ in the context of taxation was much older. That sense dates back to the sixteenth century at least. The original distinction was between inland duties collected inside the country and customs duties collected at the borders/ports.

(Just to complicate things, the excise was an inland duty, but it later became more convenient to combine the excise office with the customs collection to create a single department, the Customs and Excise, leaving the other inland taxes to be collected by the Inland Revenue. As has already been mentioned, those have now merged to create a single tax collection department.)

In contrast, the use of ‘internal’ to refer to a country’s domestic affairs dates only from the 1790s. What is more, one of the two quotations given by the OED for its use during that decade uses it in the context of the US government revenues. In other words, it was the Americans who rejected the well-established word for that purpose - ‘inland’ - and instead replaced it with a new, slightly different sense of ‘internal’. It was the British usage which would, at the time, have been the more obvious.

Well naturally you living in the affluent suvvern part of England would need more dosh that what us peasants in the norf require to eke out our miserable existence in caves and hovels and such :wink:

Lend us a quid guv’nor to buy some bones for my whippet and two ferrets

No doubt because the United States has land boundaries, so that land-versus-water doesn’t work as well to distinguish tariffs from internal taxes.

So what you’re saying is the meaning of the word has shifted, rather than there being a deeper meaning to the name?

I suppose I can live with that. Thanks :slight_smile:

Hong Kong, incidentally, post-handover to the People’s Republic of China, still has an Inland Revenue Service, which it obvious inherited from its former British masters. Curious to think that “Inland Revenue Service” is no longer vogue terminology in the UK but is still in use in HK.