Introduction to Strange Tax Laws
When I say you should look at the funny side of taxes, I'm sure your first instinct is to punch me in the face, and then follow that with a kick to the ribs. Understandable. But while we all have to deal with the yearly pain of paying income taxes, the quarterly pain of paying property taxes, and the daily pain of all the many hidden taxes in our lives from food to gasoline, there are some tax laws out there so weird, so strange and baffling, that they're actually kind of funny. Or at least head shaking worthy in stupidity as opposed to disbelief. If you think your nation's tax laws don't make sense, take a look at some of the doozies in this article! Some of these are strange, some funny, and some just sad, but just because the only two certain things in life are death and taxes doesn't mean we can't poke a little bit of fun at both :)
Which International Tax Law Do You Like?
From the recent stories of awesome international tax stories, try a few of these on and hope your local government doesn't get any ideas to make those budgets...
From China: Mooncake Taxes totaling 30 Million Yuan. Mooncakes are popular Chinese pastries that are as Chinese as apple pie is American...and they were so popular that many businesses realized giving one or two out to employees every week helped make them grateful and stop asking for pesky raises, not to mention a great way to bribe officials. Then the budget shortfalls came, and the Chinese thought, hey, all these bribes in mooncakes, let's TAX THEM!! So yes, this tax is taxing official pastry bribes.
Or how about Sweden's webcam stripper tax? The Swedish Tax Authority realized hundreds of online girls were not paying taxes for the money they earned by stripping online. Aside from maybe being the creepiest tax mentioned on here, I'll just leave it at only the Swedish could center this out as the largest tax problem their nation is facing.
Ireland may soon become a favorite for "starving artists," as they have rules that artists making under 250,000 Euro a year don't have to pay taxes at all. This is one of the most remarkable steps in encouraging artistry throughout Ireland. Much better than the up to 40% paid by American writers. Now if everyone here at InfoBarrel will excuse me, I'll be applying for residency.
Witches can feel free to expand their education in the Netherlands, where it was ruled that witches or wizards taking classes on spells, herbs, and other such knowledge could write it off since expanding their knowledge was part of their business. Now you know.
Strange American Taxes
Other countries aren't the only ones with weird taxes. The United States is full of strange oddities on the book. Did you know if you get busted in some states with illegal drugs, you are required to pay tax on those drugs? That's right - on top of felony charges, you owe Uncle Sam for not paying for possession. This isn't just one state, either. 23 states have taxes on illegal drugs.
Virginia and Maryland are two states who have enacted a "flush tax," making a small monthly tax on households in order to use that money to help treat sewage water. So in those states, there is a small tax for flushing a toilet. You would expect to have this type of tax close to Washington DC.
Apparently in Alabama playing cards are still a vice, as the state levies a 10 cent per pack tax on any deck of playing cards bought, in addition to a $1-3 a year tax on any store that sells them.
Other odd American taxes? Well you might want to go across the border if you live in Arkansas and want to avoid their tattoo tax, the fountain drink tax in Chicago is 9% as of this writing, while sparklers cost more in West Virginia on the 4th of July.
Weirdest Taxes of All Time?
While many of these seem strange, they don't even compare to the weirdest taxes to be charged throughout history. Briefly here is a list of some of the strangest or weirdest tax laws that we know of as being on the books:
- Cooking Oil Tax from Egypt. This is an example of the greatest shakedowns ever. The Pharaohs taxed cooking oil of the peasants, and recycling old oil or having oil that was "too old" was illegal. Needless to say the "legal cooking oil" had an enormous amount of taxation.
- Urine Tax from Rome. Only from Rome could a tax on human urine like this appear.
- Beard Tax from Russia. Apparently Peter the Great did not like beards, and taxed any men who sported them...which must have made for much longer winters.
- Bee Hive Tax from Russia. Also Peter the Great...how dare those bees build hives without permission!
- Soul Tax from Russia. Also from Peter the Great. Not going to touch this one - and imagine trying to argue you don't have one to a ruler who could execute you for saying so!
Are You Smiling About Taxes Yet?
Okay, so maybe it's a little much to ask you to be smiling at the idea of tax season, but hopefully this hub has succeeded in at least getting a little bit of a smirk. While all of us have to deal with taxes, I'm certainly glad to not have to pay taxes on my beard, urination, playing cards, windows, hats, or mooncakes on top of gasoline, food, purchases, income, and living. So while the tax season might still hurt, it could be a whole lot worse! At least here you're not charged for your urine, your bribes, or your immortal soul! While taxes are painful for everyone, at least a few funny or ridiculous tax laws should hopefully bring somewhat of a smile to your face.