Szechuan Li Tax on Salt Licenses Good for the Province

Weight: 372 grams/10 taels


Date: N/A


Inscriptions: 通省引厘

Li Tax on Salt License Good for the Province

* In order to finance its effort suppress the Taiping rebels, the Szechuan provincial government was forced to increase its revenue fromthe 7th year of Hsien Feng (1857) by collecting Li Tax from salt merchants. The tax levy was based on the amount of salt licenses (Yin, 引) or salt coupons (Piao,票) obtained by official salt merchants, and was collected when the salt was obtained from the government monopoly.

* The Szechuan government remodeled and reinforced its bureaucratic machinry in order to implement its new tax policy. Beside the Tea and Salt Administration (茶鹽道) which had been the supreme governing body for salt matters in the province since the Ming Dynasty, two new entities were established: The Official Transportation Bureau (官運局), and its subsidiaries located at major salt vending areas of the province which were called Bureaus of Li Tax on Salt Licenses or Bureaus of Li Tax on Salt Coupons (引厘局, 票厘局).  According to the surviving specimens of sycee which were cast to pay this new tax and dating from this era, most of them were either inscribed with the  name of a "Bureau of Li Tax on Salt Licenses" or "Bureau of Li Tax on Salt Coupon", or were consigned to either of them. Undoubtedly, those tax silvers were eventually submitted by the local bureaus, after a certain amount had been accumulated or after the passage of a certain period of time, to the Official Transportation Bureau which would then submit the same to the treasury of the Tea and Salt Administration.

* Li Tax silver were requested to be classified into one of two types: Those from the salt licenses or coupons for salt sold inside the province, and those for salt sold outside the province. The former was to be provincial revenue while the latter was designated as military rations by the imperial government to aid other provinces, such as Hunan and Kueichow.  The piece shown above, even though it has no inscriptions showing its origin, is believed to be one of few surviving examples cast by the Official Transportation Bureau or the Tea and Salt Administration and categorized the former type.     

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