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Revenue stamp: Wikis


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An 1862 US 3-cent stamp used for proprietary articles

A revenue stamp, tax stamp or fiscal stamp is a stamp used to collect taxes or fees on documents, tobacco, alcoholic drinks, drugs and medicines, playing cards, hunting licenses, firearm registration,[1] and many other things.



Revenue stamps are stamps used to collect taxes and fees. They are issued by Governments, national and local, and by official bodies of various kinds. They take many forms and may be gummed and ungummed, peforated or imperforate, printed or embossed, and of any size. In many countries, they are as detailed in their design as banknotes and they are often made from the same type of paper. The high value of many revenue stamps means that they may contain security devices to prevent counterfeiting.


The use of revenue stamps goes back further than that of postage stamps (first used in 1840); the stamps of the Stamp Acts of the 18th century were revenues. Their use became widespread in the 19th century, partly inspired by the success of the postage stamp, and partly motivated by the desire to streamline government operations, the presence of a revenue stamp being an indication that the item in question had already paid the necessary fees. Revenue stamps have become less commonly seen in the 21st century, with the rise of computerization and the ability to use numbers to track payments accurately.

There are a great many kinds of revenue stamps in the world, and it is likely that some are still uncataloged. Both national and local entities have issued them. In certain periods government have combined the uses of postage and revenue stamps, calling them "postal fiscals" or inscribing them "Postage and Revenue".

Methods of cancellation

Revenue stamp of USSR, 1925.

While revenue stamps often resemble postage stamps, they were not normally intended for use on mail and therefore do not receive a postal cancellation. Some countries have issued stamps valid for both postage and revenue, but this practice is rare now. Many different methods have been used to cancel revenue stamps, including pen cancels, inked handstamps, perforating, embossing, hole punching or simply tearing.


Revenue stamps were once widely collected by philatelists and given the same status as postage stamps in stamp catalogs and at exhibitions. After World War One, however, they declined in popularity, possibly due to being excluded from catalogues as the number of postage stamps issued rose rapidly and crowded revenues out. Recently they have become popular again and they now have their own FIP (Fédération Internationale de Philatélie) Commission and are an approved category in FIP endorsed stamp exhibitions.[2]

Many catalogs have been issued by specialist publishers and dealers but it is true to say that revenue stamps still do not feature in the most popular catalogs, for instance the standard Scott, Stanley Gibbons and Michel catalogs, unless they are both revenue and postage stamps. The Scott specialised United States catalogue does feature US revenue stamps.

Some types of revenue stamps

Court fees

One of the earliest uses of revenue stamps was to pay Court Fees. Stamps were used in the Indian feudal states as early as 1797, almost 50 years before the first postal stamps.[3]

Although India is only one of several countries that have used tax stamps on legal documents, it was one of the most prolific users. The practice is almost entirely stopped now, partly due to the prevalence of forgeries which cost the issuing government revenue.[4]


The tax on documents, also commonly known as stamp duty, is one of the oldest uses of revenue stamps. Governments would enforce the payment of the tax by making unstamped documents unenforcable in court. The tax would apply to contracts, tenancy agreements, wills etc.

Tobacco and alcohol

In many countries, tobacco and alcohol are taxed by the use of excise stamps. For instance, the producer may buy stamps from the government which are then affixed to each bottle of alcohol or packet of cigarettes to show that tax has been paid. Often the stamp will be fixed across a seal so that on opening the pack or bottle the stamp is destroyed.


Examples of revenue stamps in specific countries


The Italian revenue stamp, referred to as a "marca da bollo" in Italian, is a revenue stamp that has been used in Italy since 1863 as payment for the validation of acts and public documents (for example, notarial acts, statements, passports, etc).


Further reading

Philatelic societies

External links

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