Crazy taxes around the world.


The Money Engineer

Think social media tax and mobile money tax is crazy? Well think again. I did some research online and found some crazy taxes!

1. Denmark: Cow gas tax. Owning a cow in Denmark will cost you $110 to reduce on pollution and greenhouse gas emotions.

2. Russia: Beard tax. Back in the 1700’s to help civilize the masses Peter the Great Czar of Russia instituted a beard tax to encourage people to shave. If you were to have a beard you had to pay the tax.

3. England: window tax. In 1969 a tax based on the number of windows was imposed. This led to people having fewer larger windows to avoid the tax. The tax was eventually repealed on health grounds.

4. England: Brick tax. In 1700 builders were taxed for each brick used in construction. Builders started to use bigger bricks to avoid the tax. The gov’t responded by taxing the bigger bricks. eventually the tax was repealed.

5. Egypt: Cooking Oil tax. In ancient Egypt a tax on cooking was imposed as cooking oil was quite popular.

6. India: Salt tax. Britain’s Salt Act of 1882 prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt, a staple in their diet. Indian citizens were forced to buy the vital mineral from their British rulers, who, in addition to exercising a monopoly over the manufacture and sale of salt, also charged a heavy salt tax. Although India’s poor suffered most under the tax, all Indians required salt. The Salt March, which took place from March to April 1930 in India, was an act of civil disobedience led by Mohandas Gandhi to protest British rule in India. During the march, thousands of Indians followed Gandhi from his religious retreat near Ahmedabad to the Arabian Sea coast, a distance of some 240 miles. The march resulted in the arrest of nearly 60,000 people, including Gandhi himself. India finally was granted its independence in 1947.

7. Uganda. Hut and Gun tax. Established in the 1900 Buganda agreement essentially to force black people into labour working for the British to pay the taxes. The British then effectively replicated the model in other colonies up until independence.

8. State of Travancore: Breast Tax. State of Travancore imposed a breast tax on women belonging to disadvantaged sections of society. Women from lower castes were not allowed to cover their breasts, and were taxed heavily if they did so. Tax collectors measured the breasts and levied tax accordingly. However, a brave woman called Nangeli belonging to Ezhava caste, decided to protest by covering her chest without paying the breast-tax. When the inspector heard she was refusing to pay the tax, he went to her house to ask her to stop breaking the law. She refused to comply and cut her breasts off. Nangeli’s sacrifice benefited all the women of Travancore, and ultimately forced the King to roll back the breast-tax.

9. Texas: Strip clubs in Texas impose a $5 surcharge for each visitor. The “pole tax,” as it is commonly called, brings the state an additional $40m in revenue each year. Most of the proceeds go to programmes that support victims of sexual assault.

10. Rome: Urine Tax. Ancient Romans valued urine for its ammonia content. They found the natural enemy of dirt and grease valuable for laundering clothes and even whitening teeth. And like all valuable products, there was a scheme to tax it. Emperor Vespasian (r. A.D. 69-79) earned a lot of money by taxing the trade in urine that was gathered at public restrooms.

Governments around the world will always be creative in how they raise money through taxes to meet the ever increasing demands from the masses. History shows that if a tax is unpopular enough it is eventually repealed or simply overtaken by events. In other cases very unpopular taxes like the salt tax in India can catalyze discontent and lead to massive protests and civil disobedience. It is a delicate balancing act for any government.

Let’s wait and see what happens when the dust finally settles!

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