The Belasting & Douane Museum (Tax and Customs Museum) has selected some 500 objects from its collection. They illustrate more than 15 centuries of tax and customs systems. It is fascinating to discover how the history of taxes and customs, which have belonged together for more than 400 years, is part and parcel of the country’s history. At times, taxes played a major role in that history, with far-reaching consequences. Just think of Alva’s ‘tenth penny’ in the 16th century or the creation of an income tax and wealth tax by Minister of Finance N.G. Pierson at the end of the 19th century. Changes in the system of taxation can bring about changes in the social structure -or vice versa.
The collection reveals that taxes – whether we like them or not – are inextricably bound with daily life. Visitors can compare their own financial position with that of their ancestors who, in the not so distant past, were even taxed for wearing a wig, using soap or salt, playing cards and riding a horse or a bicycle. Sometimes they rebelled or tried to evade import duties by smuggling, sometimes they stoically accepted the new measures. In short, taxes took on many different forms in the course of time and have given rise to mixed feelings. Every tax is a sign of its time.
The objective of the Tax and Customs Museum is to arouse more interest in the history of taxes and customs by collecting and conserving, administering, studying and presenting their material. The Tax & Customs Museum aims to acquaint a wide audience with the collection, be it for both scientific and educational, as well as recreational purposes.