London & Chartwell: The British Government and Winston S. Churchill, 1945. This singular, fascinating post-Second World War artifact is from the personal collection of Churchill's bibliographer, Ronald I. Cohen. Comprising a pair of linked items, this is Winston S. Churchill’s original original Certificate of Post-War Credit from the British Government's Inspector of Taxes, accompanied by Churchill's signed authorization to deposit the credit in his bank.
The “Certificate of Post-War Credit” (so labeled above the UK Coat of Arms) is an official document, printed in purple on both sides of thin stock measuring 7.25 x 4.75 inches (18.42 x 12.07 cm). The printed recto has three hand-emendations, each in the same blue ink – the number “6438” at the upper right, denoting the “Post-War Credit No.”, the name “Rt. Hon. Winston Churchill” in the space for the Certificate recipient, and the sum “65” beside the £ symbol at the lower left. Additionally, there is an ink-stamped “10 NOV 1945” at the lower right beside the typed “Date”. The printed text reads “This is to Certify that the undermentioned sum has been recorded in favour of ______ as the Post-War Credit due for the year ended 5th April 1945, under Section 7 of the Finance Act, 1941. C. T. CHEESE, H.M. Inspector of Taxes, (Pall Mall), 2nd Floor, Mill House, 87/9 Shaftesbury Avenue, W.1.” The only additional notation is a faint and tiny “9543” penciled near the top center. The printed verso has printed places for notes and calculations, along with hand-emended figures terminating in the “65” Credit. Condition is good, the print bright, the paper substantially clean with tiny losss to the upper corners, two small holes at the upper left, as well as a diagonal rust-stain, perhaps from a paper clip that once lay against the paper.
Accompanying Churchill’s Certificate is his typed, hand-emended, and signed authorization deposit his Credit. The authorization is on a single, blank sheet measuring 5.25 x 8 inches (13.34 x 20.32 cm) It is addressed “To: H.M. Inspector of Taxes,” with the salutation “Sir,” followed by a “Revenue Ref:” and the following text: I hereby authorize my Bankers, Lloyds Bank Limited (Cox’s & King’s Branch), any income tax Post-War Credit to which I am entitled for the years 1944/45, and 1945/46. Churchill signed “WS Churchill” on the signature line. Notation in a different hand is found in three places. Below the “To:” type is the address of the Inspector of Taxes (matching the address on the Certificate). The revenue reference number “4275” is hand-written, as is Churchill’s address – “Chartwell, Westerham, Kent”. Condition is very good, the paper clean and complete, with wear, wrinkling, and a few short, closed tears to the edges, a single vertical and single horizontal crease (Perhaps from original mailing), and what appear to be staple holes at the upper left.
As the Second World War loomed, increased military spending led to income tax increases and surtaxes. During the war, the rates increased even further, attempting to cope with vast expenditure needs. Recognizing the burden on British taxpayers, in April 1941, Churchill’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Kingsley Wood (1881-1943), introduced a promise of post-war tax credits: “…the extra tax which any individual will pay…. will be offset after the war by a credit… In other words, the individual citizen will have to pay the tax in full, but that part of the extra tax… will, I hope, form an additional fund of post-war savings for himself and his dependents.”
In 1941, any tax credit he might personally eventually receive – provided that he and Britain survived the conflagration of the Second World War – would not have been in the forefront of Churchill’s mind. But after leading his nation to victory – and being turfed out of his premiership in the General Election of July 1945 – Churchill, like many other British citizens, found himself entitled to small return on the sacrifices he had made. The £65 Churchill deposited in 1945 is equivalent in purchasing power to more than £3,000 today. Item #006941