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How did Great Britain enforce the payment of taxes?

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Quick Answer

The most significant action Great Britain took to enforce taxes on colonists was the enactment of the Stamp Act in 1765, which imposed a tax on all paper documents. Through this act, colonists were forced to pay for a stamp that made the documents legal. Until the Stamp Act, Great Britain did little to enforce the payment of taxes.

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How did Great Britain enforce the payment of taxes?
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Full Answer

The Stamp Act was the result of a British treasury emergency. Due to the Seven Years War, Great Britain was nearly bankrupt. The American colonies were prospering, however, so Great Britain decided to recoup some of its money from the colonists, who it saw as equally responsible for the cost of the war because they benefited from British protection. At first, Great Britain actually lowered taxes but became stricter in the collection of them. British customs officials were charged with the responsibility of making sure that tariffs and taxes were paid on goods shipped into and out of the colonies. This led to a rise in smuggling in the colonies. Because Great Britain was across the ocean, it was too difficult to police the colonies closely, so the Stamp Act was born, which would ensure that taxes were collected from colonists. The colonists, however, felt this infringed upon their rights, and after failed attempts to convince the British government to give them representation in parliament, they declared independence and entered into the Revolutionary War.

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