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Tax of a uniform amount levied on each individual. The most famous British poll tax was the one levied in 1380, a main cause of the 1381 Peasants' Revolt. In the U.S., poll taxes were used as a voting prerequisite in the southern states; when payment was made a prerequisite to voting, impoverished blacks (and often poor whites) were effectively denied the vote. In 1966 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could not levy a poll tax as a prerequisite for voting in state and local elections.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on poll tax, visit Britannica.com.