Most of us don’t find taxes too funny if the truth were told. But history reveals some outlandish taxes from places all over the world. While you may not be able to laugh while you file your tax return this year, take a quick look at these hilarious and outlandish taxes from around the globe.
Bachelor Taxes in Argentina
In the early 1900s, Argentina imposed a bachelor tax. Unmarried men had to pay taxes just because they hadn’t gotten married. The government at the time did offer a tax break to gentlemen who proposed to a young lady but got turned down. But to qualify for the tax break, the man had to submit a signed statement from the woman who turned him down. Men turned to making agreements with women ahead of time. The women would agree to turn them down and sign the statement so that the man could claim the deduction on taxes.
Outlandish Taxes on Beards in Russia
Peter the Great wanted to present Russia with a more clean-cut image. So, he introduced their beard tax. Having a beard wasn’t illegal, you just had to pay a tax if you wanted to grow one. Bearded men had to carry a special token with them to prove that he had paid the tax on his beard. The beard tax lasted from 1698 to 1772. That’s a long time to tax a beard.
The Egyptian Tax on Cooking Oil
Cooking oil was one of the outlandish taxes in Ancient Egypt. Not only was it taxed, but cooking oil had to be purchased from the monopoly held by the Pharaohs. People were also prohibited from re-using oil they had purchased previously.
England’s Outlandish Taxes
England implemented a window tax in 1696. Houses were taxed based on how many windows they had. People started building houses with very few windows to avoid the outlandish tax. It eventually led to health problems and the law was finally repealed in 1851. In 1712, England also began taxing printed wallpaper. Builders decided to avoid paying the taxes by hanging plan wallpaper. Then, they would paint their own designs on it. Also in the 1700s, England started taxing bricks. It didn’t take long for builders to figure out that by using larger bricks, they used fewer bricks. This ended up reducing the per-brick tax. Bricks were taxed until 1850 when the tax was repealed.
Swedish Tax Break for Work Clothes
Ever wonder why the popular Swedish band ABBA wore such crazy outfits while they performed? It was to avoid taxes. In the 1970s, Swedish tax laws allowed the band to deduct the cost of their outfits if and only if they used them solely for work. It had to be very clear that they couldn’t be worn in public as everyday clothes.
Taxes on Japanese Whiskey
Japan’s tax on whiskey wasn’t imposed on a per bottle basis. Instead, it was calculated by the percentage of alcohol the product contained. Japanese whiskey producers began diluting their whiskey to avoid paying the outlandish taxes.
Roman Tax on Urine
Yes, you read that right. In ancient Roma, urine was used for a variety of purposes because of the amount of ammonia it contained. It was used to whiten teeth and to clean clothes. It was in such high demand, taxes were levied on trading. Nero was the leader to impose the tax. His successor, Vespasian is noted for getting a memorable moment out of it. His son asked about the horrible smell. Vespasia famously replied, “money doesn’t stink.”