Selective taxes on goods and services, often referred to as excise taxes, are
among the oldest forms of taxation in the world.1 The salt excise, for instance,
was considered a goldmine for the European sovereign during theMiddle Ages,
because sources of supplywere few and could be easily controlled. Interestingly,
the prominence of excise taxation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
owed much to the Dutch, whose duties on beer, sugar, salt, spirits, and other
goods were called excijsen.