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The Most Interesting, Unusual and Strange Taxes in the World - from the History of Taxation

Dear visitors of our website, we offer you a brief overview of the most interesting facts and figures for taxes on real estate, taxes on sales, taxes on property, and income taxes and tax days. Some of them look ridiculous and amazing, while the others can seriously bewilder you and make you think a lot.

Each of us is obliged to pay taxes, as the taxes are the main source of national income. Government agencies, the armed forces, and the public health care system are maintained, and pensions are payable at the expense of funds from the taxpayers. That’s why the government tax authorities seek to maximize the revenues to the national budget with additional taxes.

The history of the tax relationships between a country and the potential taxpayer is rooted in the deep past. Since the ancient times, the rulers and the monarchs introduced the most various fees and taxes, trying to replenish the national treasury. The system of collecting the public taxes had appeared alongside with a country. Countries were growing and developing, and in parallel, with them, the system of country taxation was improving too. If earlier the taxes were paid in kind, by the cattle or the cut yield, today it is a complex system.

In this part of our site, we will tell you about the most unusual taxes, which are known in the history of international taxation. It is worth to note that some of them had a significant impact on the fate of a country and the further history.


Guinea: taxes on the peace It is known that the countries of the African region are underdeveloped and the poorest. But despite of it, some states practice very strange taxes. In particular, citizens of the Republic of Guinea have to pay the tax on the peace. Taking into account the fact that no combat operations are conducted in the region, and the armed forces as such does not exist, the inhabitants of the country are paid about 18 Euros annually. It should be noted that for the local population, this amount is very significant, since the biggest part of the country lives in poverty
Guinea: taxes on the peace Austria is known worldwide for its ski resorts. Every year, millions of tourists, who prefer the active rest, come into this country. Snowboarders and skiers from all over the world rush to the Austrian Alps for extreme relaxation. The government of the state, in addition to the medical insurance, had decided to impose the vacationers with the additional tax. The so-called tax on the gypsum is an obligatory collection on the ski resorts in Austria. Funds received from these fees are aimed at the medical institutions and hospitals. In other words, the Austrian government has created a mutual aid fund for skiers
Guinea: taxes on the peaceLithuania has joined the list of the states with the strange taxes owing to the tax on rain. In such a way the city authorities try to find the funds to repair the city storm drain. City residents should be engaged in the arrangement of the drainage or to pay the established by the state tax. This situation is caused by the annual rainy seasons, which have become a real disaster for municipal authorities. According to the officials, the existing sewerage system and water-purification system cannot operate in the proper way, accordingly the additional funds are required.
Guinea: taxes on the peaceSince the 2000, in the jurisdiction of the Balearic Islands a tax on sunlight was introduced. It is collected from all the visiting tourists. The amount of the tax is 1 Euro per day, and all the funds coming into the Treasury, are aimed at the development of the island’s tourism infrastructure. It should be noted that the archipelago of the Balearic Islands is a very popular tourist destination. Here such famous resort areas as, Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and etc. are located.
China: taxes on the chopsticksThis flatware is traditional for almost all the Asian countries. In China, this tradition has been imposed by the state tax. Each sold wooden chopsticks is levied a tax of 5%. The gained profits are aimed at the reforestation and protection from logging. Chinese researchers have found that every year for the production of the disposable chopsticks more than 25 million trees are cut down. To protect the forests from the extinction the tax on all the bamboo products was also introduced.
Belgium: taxes on the barbecueThe Walloon region in Belgium is famous for its tax on barbecue. As the approval, the regional government had cited the findings of the conducted study. The study says that while cooking the meat on the grill 100 grams of the carbon dioxide is releasedinto the surrounding atmosphere. Thus, if the inhabitants of Wallonia wish to cook in the backyard barbecue, they are forced to pay into the state treasury 20 Euros. This tax is provided for each use the special oven or grill. Control over the observance of the current legislation is provided by the air patrols, which are equipped with special thermal cameras
Belgium: taxes on the barbecueFor the residents of the Arkansas the opportunity to make a beautiful tattoo or piercing involves the payment of the imposed tax. This type of tax was introduced in the beginning of 2005 and is valid until the present time. Local fiscal legislation sets a 6% tax rate onthe cost of the service itself. According to the representatives of the authorities, in such a way they intend to deal with non-professionals in this field. It is not a secret that when applying a tattoo, there is a risk to catch the various diseases, including Hepatitis, AIDS and tuberculosis.
Belgium: taxes on the barbecue In our world the phenomenon of the civil marriage is not a novelty, and it was originated in ancient times when the representatives of the different classes or religions could not marry legally and get married in church. In today's world the number of the civil marriages is growing every year, whatcan not be saidabout the official marriage. The Chinese authorities have decided to deal with such a tendency, namely to affect thefatness of the taxpayers’ purse. Since 90-ies of the last century, the residents of China, which live in the civil marriage, have to pay a public tax. The tax rate is about 120 Euros annually
Venice: taxes on shadowAccording to the authorities of Venice, not only the material and tangible objects are liable to the taxation. So in the middle of 1993 the tax on the shadow was introduced. This type of budgetary payment provides for the payment of the tax for the use of shadows falling from municipal buildings. Owners of restaurants, cafes and shops which are located close to them, have to pay the public tax. Moreover, the taxes are levied equally on sunny and cloudy days.
United States: taxes on  drugs The liberal and democratic country the USA has managed to replenish the state treasury even from the illicit drugs. So in the beginning of 2005 on the territory of the Tennessee a tax on narcotic and psychotropic substances was introduced. Almost all the soft drugs, and also marijuana, ecstasy and cocaine become liable to taxes. Drug pusher and drug dealers are encouraged to pay the taxes anonymously, and the bills can serve as a mitigating circumstance, if they are caught by the law enforcement officers.
Sweden: taxes on  four-legged friendsSpeaking about the tax on dogs, it is worth to note that this form of taxation operates in many European countries, including Austria and Norway. The size of the tax rate can depend on the various parameters, dog breed, height, weight and etc. For example, the Austrian authorities oblige the dog lovers to pay annually about 100 or more Euros. In addition, in most cases it is also necessary to conclude a contract of insurance, if the dog will cause any harm to others. Thus, the authorities are trying to compensate for the costs of rehabilitation and treatment of the victims of dog bites. In the case of evasion from payment of this tax, a dog breeder risks to pay a fine in the amount of one thousand Euros or even more.
Tax on sparrowsOne of the strangest types of taxation was already known in the 18th century. In the Württemberg Abbey each town-dweller was obliged to provide 12 carcasses of sparrows, which were killed by him, the state, in its turn, paid the citizen 6 kreutzers. For those who failed to catch the required number of birds, the state had established a tax of 12 kreutzers. As a result, the clandestine market of carcasses of dead birds was prospering in the town.
Real estate taxThe norms of the fiscal law in Belgium, consider the ownership of accommodation by the taxpayer as an income item, as it allows to economize on the rental properties. That is why in Belgium, the owners of real property, in the case of no demand for the rental housing, are trying to sell it and not pay extra taxes.
Tax on dancingEgyptian authorities have decided to impose a tax on the professional dancers who perform the "belly dance". In terms of volume of ingoing payments to the budget, this state income item occupies leading positions after exporting the petroleum products, cotton industry and tourism.
Tax on dogsSince the 90-ies of the last century, all people of Japan, who want to have a pet dog, have to pay an annual tax to the state treasury. The tax is imposed on all the dog breeds, and the tax rate is about 20 US dollars annually.
The number of pages of the tax legislation of the USAThe tax legislation of the United States of America takes 260 volumes or 17 thousand pages of text. And the amount of the US tax code exceeds the mark of 1 thousand pages. For comparison we can say that in 1913 all the fiscal legislation of the USA was placed on 200 pages.
Tax on toiletsEmperor Vespasian, who had ruled Rome in the 1st century BC, had imposed a tax on all the urban latrines. It was he who was an author of the catch phrase – money does not stink.
Time to file a tax return? Check your heart! Medical analysts and doctors in Italy have calculated that the peak of heart attacks occurs in the middle of June. During this very period it is the deadline for the submission of the annual tax returns.
Tax on everything that is possibleTibet has become famous in the system of taxation, due to the great number of the most different taxes. According to the experts, at the beginning of the last century, more than 2 thousand types of state taxes were levied in Tibet. Almost everything was taxed: the wedding and the birth of children, the right to dance and to sing, the right to play the drums or to ring the bells and etc. It is known, that at the time of military events in 1926, a state tax on ears was introduced.
The tax on the official refusing of military serviceIn the era of knights and brave heroes, the cowardice was taxed on the territory of England. The law said that the one, who will get his feet cold and refuse to participate in battles for his king, will be obliged to pay the established tax. If at first the amount of the tax was relatively small, then its rate had reached 300%. According to the historians, this tax was a prerequisite for the writing of the Great Charter of the Liberties.
Tax on single menWe remember the Soviet Union for its striving for creating a strong family, the unit of the socialist society. That is why, in the USSR, a tax on single men was introduced. To be more precise, all single women and single men, at the age from 20 to 50 years, had to pay 6% of the income to the state budget on a monthly basis.
Tax on hatsIn the beginning of the 17th century an interesting tax on hats was introduced in England. Moreover, the tax rate was different for town-dwellers and rural residents. Town-dwellers, who wanted to wear a hat, had to pay to the treasury 2 pounds annually, and rural residents – 5 shillings respectively.
If you are a chancellor – taxes are not for youFamous German dictator Adolf Hitler had a very peculiar attitude to the tax payments. When his book "My Struggle" started bringing huge profits, he ordered his servants to find the cause which can relieve him of duties of the taxpayer. The solution was found, the chancellor was equated with the great Caesar, who was not a subject to the tax legislation.
Countries with the lowest taxes in the worldA list of the most tax-free states on the planet is headed by the oil giants. In particular, these are the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait. The incomes of the citizens of the country are not taxed with state taxes on the territory of these states.
Tax on civil marriageThe authorities of the Chinese port city Tianjin had introduced a tax on cohabitation in the middle of 1996. As a result, all the residents of the city, which are in a civil marriage, should pay into the state treasury about 120 US dollars annually.
Tax on single menThe history of taxation knows one amusing incident that took place in England in the mid 40-ies of the last century. After earl Leofric had introduced a number of heavy taxes for the local residents, his wife, in protest, had ridden naked on horseback through the city streets. It is worth to pay tribute to the earl, after he had realized his mistake he abolished the taxes which were imposed previously. The grateful citizens have erected a monument to the wife of the earl, and to this very day revere her cherished memory.
Where the taxes are 100% or moreNorway has become world famous due to the most incredible taxes. So, in 1974, some citizens of Norway had to pay more than 100% tax. For instance, the magnate, and the ship's tycoon Hilmar Reksten has paid to the state treasury more than 460% tax.
Taxes on dogsSince the 70-ies of the last century, the inhabitants of Sweden are taxed on dogs. The tax rate depended on the various indicators, including, height, weight and breed of the dog. In order to collect information about the deliberate defaulters, the state had to find someone who could bark like a dog. The employee barked at the threshold of the house, and caused a relevant reaction of the pets.
Tax on being aliveThe English rulers, in the 14th century, had decided to tax the lives of their citizens. Since then, everyone had to pay a tax just because he was alive. This approach to the fiscal policy of the state had led to the tragic consequences, which has resulted in a national revolt.
20 tons of change – to the revenue serviceOne amusing incident has occurred in France. One lucky beggar had got a bill from the fiscal authorities for payment the taxes from the winnings, which amounted about 3.5 million francs. Yielding to the requirements of the state authorities, the player had once arrived to the IRS, accompanied by three trucks filled to the brim with the coins in denominations of one franc. The number of the coins, which were paid in the form of the tax, had amounted to more than 3.5 million items, and the total weight of the money supply had amounted to more than 20 tons.
Certificates for the best taxpayersThe Indonesian authorities have found an original way to promote the exemplary taxpayers. Every year the authorities publish a list of the best taxpayers, who lead in terms of the amount of the payments to the budget. Both private individuals and companies are included into this list. The distinguished taxpayers are awarded valuable gifts and diplomas, and in the following tax period they can count on the significant tax benefits.
Tax on single menPeter I, who had opened a "window to Europe", had also imposed a tax on beards at the beginning of 1689. So, the state had laid down a number of the requirements and taxes for all the citizens who had beards. Violation of the established requirements was punished by a monetary penalty. It is worth noting that all of the beards were divided into types, respectively, merchant, boyar, peasant and etc. There are known cases when bearded men, who had run into debts for taxes, were condemned to penal servitude to work off the existing monetary penalties and taxes.
Al Capone was imprisoned for tax evasionThe famous gangster and the terror of America Alfonso Capone was prosecuted only for evasion of tax payments. The employees of the special services failed to find evidences of his criminal activity and had used evasion of tax payments as the main reason of putting the criminal behind bars.
Taxes on freedomThis form of taxation was quite natural in the slave system. There was such tax on the territory of the Ancient Rome. In situations, when the owner gave freedom to his slave, he became liable to the tax on freedom. Besides, the amount of the tax could be levied either from the slaveowner or from the slave himself. Thus, before gaining a freedom, a slave had to pay off to the state.
Taxes for dissidentsThis tax was introduced in 1655, in England. The modern politicians can only dream about such a form of taxation. Everybody, who did not agree with the policy of the ruling regime, had to pay taxes. This measure has been imposed against the communities with appositional attitude. A public militia for protection of the state's interests had been formed at the expense of the funds, which were gained from this taxation.
Taxes for the Nobel laureatesThe most famous and important award in the scientific world is a Nobel Prize. But all the winners and recipients of the Nobel Prize also have to pay the tax to the state treasury. Since 1986, the award was included into the category of the costly and pecuniary gifts, what makes its taxation obligatory. The winner will not have to pay taxes on the prize, if he will give all the money to charity.
Taxes on foreign citizensTaking into account the scale of the modern migration and resettlement, this form of taxation does not seem unusual. The foreign citizens, who come into the country, have to pay for their stay. This form of taxation is known in the history of humanity already for a long time. For example, earlier, there was a tax for the citizens of China in Canada, which was connected with a huge flow of the immigrants from China.
Tax on glass windowsIn the 17th and 18th century, in Europe, the production of glass was an expensive and time consuming process, and not everyone could afford glass windows. In fact, a tax on glass windows, which was introduced by William the third, was the tax for the wealthy. According to the experts, it was a tax on glass windows, what became the basis for the current city tax. It is worth to note that a similar tax was applied in France since 1798. Moreover, the French had to pay both for windows and doors.
Taxes on saltIt may seem to you that the taxation of food is normal, but this tax had once become a reason of the incredible large-scale events on the national scale. For example, in France, the tax on salt had become the main catalyst for the revolution, and in China, the similar tax had nearly caused a governmental decline. In India, this tax had caused serious tensions among the public masses.
Taxes on the clocksAnother unusual tax was introduced by the rulers of England. In 1797 all the owners of the clocks were taxed. Such a tax was operating during one year, and each owner of clockwork had to pay 5 shillings into the state treasury.


Some interesting facts about taxes

Here we take a look at some interesting and fun things about income taxes. Every country at all times tried to get the maximum income from its citizens with the help of taxes. And people came up with new and new ways to avoid tax payments. Here we will tell about the most unusual taxes in the history of civilization. Some of these taxes also greatly influenced the history of their countries.

  • Tax on a shadow. This tax was introduced in Venice in 1993. According to this rule, all establishments, where shadows from tents and umbrellas fall on the urban ground, are obliged to pay a tax for for it.
  • Tax on toilets. This tax was introduced by the Roman emperor Vespasian, who lived in the 70s at the very beginning of our era. The phrase "The money does not stink!" appeared at this time, and characterized the money earned with this tax.
  • Tax on hats. The tax was introduced in England from 1784 to 1811. At that time every man wore a bowler or a hat, regardless of his social status and wealth. The country received money for nothing with this tax, but in the end, the tax was canceled.
  • Tax on windows. In the 17th century, the production of glass was quite an expensive business. Not everyone used it in windows, so the tax on windows with glass, introduced in 1696 by King William III, was essentially a wealth tax. Soon, however, the mechanism began to be used more widely, bringing income to the country.
  • Tax on clocks. Another interesting tax was introduced in Britain in 1797. This time the country treasury was filled up by the owners of the clocks. The tax lasted only one year, but during it, every owner of the watch paid the country 5 shillings.
  • Gypsum tax. There is a great number of those who love skiing in the Alps. Every year 150 thousand people suffer various injuries, and the cost of their treatment exceeds one billion euros. So in Austria, they decided to help their clinics with an additional tax. Now, every time skiers pay a tax on gypsum, which is transferred to local medical institutions.

Some more interesting quick facts and figures about taxes

  • The highest tax rates are in Norway. Since 1974 their level has been fixed at 80% of income, while about 2000 citizens paid more than 100% of their income.
  • In the 20s of the last century, the famous gangster Al Capone was imprisoned. He was convicted of tax evasion. At the same time, the Government failed to prove the guilt of any of the participants in his gang, who murdered more than 900 people.
  • Doctors from Italy have long noticed that the maximum number of heart attacks from year to year happens at the same time – in mid-June. It’s the time of the last submission of the “form 740”, the so-called tax return, the time of tax refund.
  • A famous football player Diego Maradona has a debt of about 40 million dollars to his country of origin (tax evasion). Despite the fact he is the pride of Argentina, every visit of a football player ends with some penalties. In 2006, the police confiscated a Rolex watch from Diego, and after three more years – an earring from his ear.

The entrepreneurs and people in business, in their turn, never get tired of finding new methods to optimize the taxable base. In this light, the pursuit of a country to impose the most various forms of taxation for its citizens is not surprising.

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