This is a bit of a golden age for financial and fiscal history, not least due to the excellent work of Niall Ferguson. (Have a look, for example, at his fascinating paper on the declining sensitivity of bond markets to political risk between 1848 and the Great War). Still, there's definitely lots spade-work that needs to be done on something even as basic as how tax was collected.
In a wonderful over-view of nineteenth-century Europe (a book I first read as a set text while teaching for the Open University years ago), M. S. Anderson pointed to,
one of the nineteenth-century developments most neglected by historians - the ability of governments of any political complexion working through bigger and more effective bureaucracies, to collect taxes more efficiently than ever before.
[M.S. Anderson, The Ascendancy of Europe, 1815-1914. Third Edition. (London, 1972, 1985, 2003), p. 122 ]
I certainly found it difficult to find basic info on how the tax collection machine improved so dramatically in Europe after 1848 - as it quite clearly did. And that it did is very important for the arguments I seek to make re. the travails of liberal constitutionalism particularly from c. 1870.
Anyway, I did come across an entertaining book on 'French types' by one Miss Betham-Edwards. It includes a chapter on 'The Tax Collector'. Here we find how things had dramatically changed by the time the book was written, at the turn of the century:
Up till the year 1877 a much-hated official called garnissaire or bailiff,
could instal himself in the house of a defaulting taxpayer and there claim bed
and board till all arrears were forth-coming. With the general increase ofwell-being and instruction, the function became a sinecure. Nowadays taxes are rapidly and easily collected from one end of France to the other.
[Miss Betham-Edwards, Home Life in France, 2nd edition (London., 1905)]Some bright scholars out there should get to writing the social history of taxation in the modern era. It'd be a great topic.