Yang Yen

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Yang Yen


Born 727; died 781. Chinese state figure.

A minister to Emperor Te Tsung (780–805), Yang Yen instituted important financial and taxation reforms in 780. He abolished the three-part system of taxation that for several centuries had provided the basis for peasant allotment land tenure. In place of the old system, which made use of land, household, and personal taxes, including labor obligations, he introduced a single monetary tax that was collected twice a year, in the spring and fall. The new tax was based on the amount of property, including land, and on the income from the property.

As a result of a plot by the court official Lu Ch’i, Yang Yen was removed from office in August 781. Sentenced to death in November of the same year, he is believed to have committed suicide. The taxation system introduced by Yang Yen remained in use in China in modified form until the mid-17th century.

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