What is a Revenue Stamp?

Malcolm Tatum

A revenue stamp is a device that is used in the collection of taxes on different types of products. Stamps are issued by governmental agencies ranging from local to national. The exact format for the stamp may vary somewhat, although most are equipped with some type of security element that helps to discourage the possibility of counterfeiting.

In the US, a revenue stamp can be seen in the form of a postage stamp.
In the US, a revenue stamp can be seen in the form of a postage stamp.

The revenue stamp takes on a number of different forms. One of the most common is the postal stamp, used in many nations since the middle of the 19th century. Consumers purchase the adhesive backed stamps for use in mailing letters and packages through a national postal system. In addition, postal systems in a number of countries also allow consumers to purchase and print this type of revenue stamp from government-sanctioned vendors. This makes it possible to access an online account and print the postage directly on to an envelope or print it onto a blank adhesive-backed stamp that can be affixed to letters or packages. Once the letter or package is received into the postal system, some type of marking is applied to the surface of the stamp, effectively canceling it so that the same instrument cannot be used a second time.

Another example of the revenue stamp is the tax stamp. This application is often used as part of the taxation process to collect taxes due to local, state, and national agencies on specific products, such as cigarettes and alcohol. The amount of tax reflected on the revenue stamp is listed on the item and is paid by the buyer to the seller at the time of purchase. Retailers must keep accurate records to determine how much of the tax revenue collected must be forwarded to different tax agencies for each specified tax period.

At different times and in various places, the revenue stamp was sometimes affixed to newly created contracts as a means of complying with governmental regulations regarding business agreements. The contract could be subject to taxes from several different jurisdictions, with a stamp representing each one and the amount due reflected on the affixed stamps. As with most other types of revenue stamps, once the tax is considered paid, the instruments are considered canceled, usually by marking the surface of the stamps in some manner. Taking the time to cancel the stamps used with contracts has the same effect as canceling a postal stamp. The potential for the instrument to be re-used illegally are kept to a minimum, allowing the issuing agency to continue generating some type of revenue from new transactions.

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