The Townshend Acts imposed a series of taxes on all goods imported into the United States. These taxes were instituted for a couple of reasons. First, was the ongoing need to raise revenue. However, more important than the revenue was the desire of the parliament to show they had the right to impose the taxes.
In 1766, a new government came into power in Great Britain. This new government, like those before it, came to the conclusion it needed to raise additional money from the colonies. Charles Townshend was the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Townshend immediately began investigating means to increase revenue from the colonies. He came up with the idea of placing a duty on items imported into the colonies. Townshend's plan was to place that taxation only on items that were not critical for trade. He did not want to disrupt any important trade. Townshend ultimately developed a list of items to tax, that included, glass, painter's colors, high quality paper wine and other items. These were all items that were not produced in the colonies and would be difficult to smuggle.
Townshend also developed a plan to establish a Customs Commission in the Americas to enforce the new taxes. The Tax Commissioners would be colonialists who would receive payment from the crown.
All this was taking place against the background of the continued refusal of the New York colony to enforce the Quartering Act. Their refusal infuriated many in Britain. As part of the series of acts that Townshend was to propose he included an act called the "New York Restraining Act" to punish New York for their refusal. That part of Townshend's plans were passed by the parliament on May 13th. In June, Townshend presented his plan for taxation to the Parliament. He expected to raise 8,000 Pounds from galls and 5,000 from paper, 9,000 from lead and 3,000 pounds from the duties on painters' colors. The preamble to the act passed was â€for making a more certain and adequate provision for the charge of administration of Justice, and the support of the civil government and defraying the expenses of defending, protecting and securing said colonies. The Parliament passed the laws by the end of June and on July 2 the King signed the bills. Never have revenue bills turned out to be so expensive