During the Chola period also as in other periods the land revenue was the chief item of income. Ad hoc cesses were also levied. Forced and free labour was also extracted from workers which was a saving. The revenue was collected either by the local authorities or by royal servants.
The expenses which were incurred by the king were various but he made no distinction between private and public expenditure. The former consisted in maintaining the very large palace establishment and charity.
The latter comprised the salaries of public officials, public works etc. Irai generally meant tax. When some land was exempted from tax it was Iraiyili Nilam. Dandam was penalty or fine. Ayam, Kadamai and Kudimai meant tolls, duties and tenancy dues respectively but they were also indiscriminately used. The Brahmadayas and the Devadhanams were tax-free endowments. Normally tax was collected by the officials of the autonomous village.
The royal officials also collected taxes and they had to be maintained by the village during the tax collecting season. Revenue collection was possibly farmed out so that exhorbitant extortions were usually made and even great kings like Rajaraja I thought this a natural procedure. Tax collection was marked by very cruel methods like standing the assessees in the sun the entire day.
There were many kinds of duties levied by the Chola kings. Duties on potters, goldsmiths, and todday tappers, sellers of ghee, oil mills, looms, brokerage and so forth were some of them. Even octroi duties on the movement of rice, textiles, pepper and arecanut were levied.