Officers' taxes and pay slips


May 3, 2005
2,599
277
278
Did WSL officers get taxed and supplied payslips like we do today?
I don't know how it was in the United Kingdom and other countries but the first income tax in the United States was during the Civil War in 1861. But it was later rescinded and the income tax as we know it today did not begin until 1913.
Did the WSL officers get equivalents of W2's and had to file the equivalents of 1040's every year ? :)
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
5,038
292
353
I haven't been able to find all the details, but income tax cut in a £160 per year, so Titanic's crew paid no income tax, except for Captain Smith and the top officers of the deck crew and the engineers. Everybody received a statement of wages when they signed off after each voyage. I wonder how they reported annual income.

I know everybody's income and what everybody earns;
And I carefully compare it with the income-tax returns;
But to benefit humanity however much I plan
Yet everybody says I'm such a disagreeable man!
And I can't think why!

Recognise it?
 
Nov 14, 2005
1,524
631
248
I don't know how it was in the United Kingdom and other countries but the first income tax in the United States was during the Civil War in 1861. But it was later rescinded and the income tax as we know it today did not begin until 1913.
Did the WSL officers get equivalents of W2's and had to file the equivalents of 1040's every year ? :)
In 1912 the income tax rate was around 6%. By the end of WW1 it had risen to around 30%. But that was just income taxes for people who made a certain amount. There were other taxes too.
 
Last edited:

Stephen Carey

Member
Apr 28, 2016
143
70
73
Philippines
Some info given here Income Tax. and in other stuff on the web, but nothing finite. It seems tax was increased to 17.5% in 1914 (to pay for the war), but what it was in 1912 it doesn't say on the History of Tax in UK.
PAYE (Pay As You Earn) which is where the tax is deducted at source by the employer goes back into the 19th century, but it seems it was collected half yearly or yearly, though I don't know how that would have worked. PAYE as we know it today was introduced in 1944 (paying for yet another war) and is a far better system than having to file a tax return every April. The government gets its dosh every month as you earn it, and I believe that it's around June 21st (midsummer's day) that you start earning for yourself!
As for WSL officers, I've answered this on FB to Aly, but I would think they got a pay statement when they "Paid off" the ship, though whether they got it cash in hand or bank draft I don't know, but suspect the latter. Whether they were taxed or not depended on their income level - same as today. Whether they actually reached the minimum tax level though I don't know. I think I saw somewhere that Lightoller's salary was £35/month? That was quite big money in those days, so he was probably taxed at the basic rate. The rate went up to 17.5% in 1914, so was probably 15% or less in 1912.

Just found this - "£160 per year was the annual income at which income tax became payable, and considered to be the dividing line between working and middle class. The average working week in 1912 was 56 hours." If Lightoller was on £35/month, that's £420pa, so he's well above the minimum rate. The £160 tax free would be subtracted and he would pay tax at other levels on the remaining £260. If it was 15% then he'd pay £39 a year tax meaning his take home pay was 160 + (260-39) = £381 or £31.75 per month. If you know the salaries of the officers you can substitute for the £35. The officers worked at least 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, so their weekly hours were 56 - the national average according to the article below.

(Titanic: Living in 1912 > Jake Simpkin - Local Historian & Guide.)

In my day you were either Company Contract (where your salary was paid into the bank monthly, both at sea and when on leave) or Pool Contract where you signed on for a certain amount as a daily rate whilst at sea and "Paid Off" cash in hand when you left the ship. This was the reason that crew and some officers' pay stopped when their ship was sunk during the war - or peacetime for that matter. You could arrange for a monthly "allotment" to be sent to your wife/family if you were on a Pool contract.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users
Nov 14, 2005
1,524
631
248
Thanks for the info. Interesting. The link I found said in 1912 it was 6%. By the wars end it was around 30%. But it never said if it went back down after that. Probably not.
 

Aly Jones

Member
Dec 15, 2019
407
57
63
Australia
How much did the officers get payed monthly? In 8 officers and a gentleMan, It mentions 20 pounds is roughly $2600. I've read that wilde got 36 pounds monthly, so would this mean wilde got around $3500 a month? Equaling up to $900 a week?
 

Mark Baber

Moderator
Member
Dec 29, 2000
6,282
289
353
How much did the officers get payed monthly? In 8 officers and a gentleMan, It mentions 20 pounds is roughly $2600. I've read that wilde got 36 pounds monthly, so would this mean wilde got around $3500 a month? Equaling up to $900 a week?
Aly, what country's dollar are you referring to here? The exchange rate between pounds and U.S dollars was 5/1; the two statements you make here use exchange rates of 1300/1 and 97.2/1.
 
Nov 14, 2005
1,524
631
248
Thx Steven,

I've found out that the officers got paid in coin only. Notes were not used in Britain until during WWI
Your Welcome. I think pretty much everyone got paid in coins up to WW1. From what I've read Britain stated printing a one pound and a 10 shilling note in 1914 because they were running low of gold and silver reserves. The officers probably had a lot of gold sovereigns (= to 1 pound in 1912) go thru their pockets if they were paid once a month. But I can't say that for sure in all cases as the bank of england and some private banks issued their own paper notes prior to WW1 (see Mark's link above).
 
Last edited:
Nov 14, 2005
1,524
631
248
I know this has been covered many times before on this site but as of today with the current exchange rate 1 pound in 1912 is equal to about $150 US in today. So Murdoch pay of 17 pounds 10 shillings in 1912 would be about $2,625 US a month today or 2,019 british pounds give or take a few dollars. But these numbers don't tell the whole story because they are just inflation based. The purchaseing power of currencies don't always follow inflation. 1 pound in 1912 might have bought more tea and biscuits than 115 pounds would today. If your interested you can look at the link below. They can explain it better than me. Cheers.
 
Last edited:

Aly Jones

Member
Dec 15, 2019
407
57
63
Australia
Steven, Ok, thank you. And i Just read marks link.

I guess we can't believe everything we read on the Internet.

I wonder if WSL dealt with note payments and had their own independent bank notes?
 

Aly Jones

Member
Dec 15, 2019
407
57
63
Australia
I know this has been covered many times before on this site but as of today with the current exchange rate 1 pound in 1912 is equal to about $150 US in today. So Murdoch pay of 17 pounds 10 shillings in 1912 would be about $2,625 US a month today or 2,019 british pounds give or take a few dollars. But these numbers don't tell the whole story because they are just inflation based. The purchaseing power of currencies don't always follow inflation. 1 pound in 1912 might have bought more tea and biscuits than $150 would today. If your interested you can look at the link below. They can explain it better than me. Cheers.

Aly, what country's dollar are you referring to here? The exchange rate between pounds and U.S dollars was 5/1; the two statements you make here use exchange rates of 1300/1 and 97.2/1.
----------------------_-------------------------------------------
I think in pounds because they were British. And WSL paid in pounds? I'm not that good at working things out nor bright. For many years, I am trying to figure out if the officers got more than me. I get $817 a week, $3200 a month. Looking at steves post, I guess Murdoch's monthly wage at 2000 pound a month still equals way more than my $3200 a month? because of price differences -in 2020, we pay triple the price. house prices in 1912 were reasonable price compared to today and even cars prices were a reasonable price in 1912. Also a man's wage in 1912 took care of the whole house hold where as today both partners must work. So my $ 3200 a month is way less than his $2000? His $2000 a month made Murdoch a middle class man? I had read officers had a middle class living.

Thanks. Sorry for all the questions.
 
Nov 14, 2005
1,524
631
248
Steven, Ok, thank you. And i Just read marks link.

I guess we can't believe everything we read on the Internet.

I wonder if WSL dealt with note payments and had their own independent bank notes?
I couldn't say for sure how they paid their crew. I'm sure someone on this site knows that. My ship had a disbursing office and pay window where you could cash your checks. But that was a long time after 1912 and White Star Line. How they did it...???
But in the link below Dave Gittins says (post #23) some of the crew took their pay or some of it in advance so maybe they had a payment office in port.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
Nov 14, 2005
1,524
631
248
I know this has been covered many times before on this site but as of today with the current exchange rate 1 pound in 1912 is equal to about $150 US in today. So Murdoch pay of 17 pounds 10 shillings in 1912 would be about $2,625 US a month today or 2,019 british pounds give or take a few dollars. But these numbers don't tell the whole story because they are just inflation based. The purchaseing power of currencies don't always follow inflation. 1 pound in 1912 might have bought more tea and biscuits than $150 would today. If your interested you can look at the link below. They can explain it better than me. Cheers.

Aly, what country's dollar are you referring to here? The exchange rate between pounds and U.S dollars was 5/1; the two statements you make here use exchange rates of 1300/1 and 97.2/1.
----------------------_-------------------------------------------
I think in pounds because they were British. And WSL paid in pounds? I'm not that good at working things out nor bright. For many years, I am trying to figure out if the officers got more than me. I get $817 a week, $3200 a month. Looking at steves post, I guess Murdoch's monthly wage at 2000 pound a month still equals way more than my $3200 a month? because of price differences -in 2020, we pay triple the price. house prices in 1912 were reasonable price compared to today and even cars prices were a reasonable price in 1912. Also a man's wage in 1912 took care of the whole house hold where as today both partners must work. So my $ 3200 a month is way less than his $2000? His $2000 a month made Murdoch a middle class man? I had read officers had a middle class living.

Thanks. Sorry for all the questions.
Don't be sorry its interesting. If that $3200 a month you make is in US dollars then you are making about $600 a month more than Murdoch at $2625 did in todays dollars. If your $3200 is in Australian dollars then it equals approx $2285 in todays US dollars or $350 less than him a month. Make sense?
To your other question...probably yes. I would bet his money went further than yours does today. You don't even have to go back that far. When I was a lad in grade school in the 60's I could buy a 12 oz. Coke, a stick of beef jerky and 5 pieces of bubble gum for 25 cents. Then get 2 cents back for the empty bottle. Today that would cost more even adjusted for inflation.That's based on going to the same convenience store I did in those days.
 

Similar threads

Similar threads