50 Shocking Facts About Taxes

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1Ancient Roman Urine Tax

Ancient Roman Emperor Vespasian decided to slap a tax on urine, to be paid by all purchasers of public pee because urine collectors were a common sight in the public toilets of Ancient Rome. The ammonia-rich urine was used in several processes such as tanning and wool production.


2. During the Han dynasty, unmarried women and their families had to pay a special tax for their singleness. On the other hand, women with babies didn't have to pay taxes for three years and their husbands didn't have to pay taxes for one year.


3. In the UK, there is an annual license fee of £150.50 per household just to watch live TV. There are even special detector vans (with people in them) that catch and prosecute violators watching live TV illegally without a license.


4. Buttock mail is a tax historically levied in Scotland as a punishment for sex outside of marriage.


5. In 1695, the English parliament passed a law to tax all bachelors over the age of 25. The Bachelor Tax was later abolished in 1706.


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6Childlessness Tax

To encourage population growth after World War 2, the Soviet Union imposed an extra 6% "childlessness tax" on men between the ages 25-50 and married women between ages 20-45, who did not have children.


7. The "jock tax" is income tax levied on athletes who are visiting a city or state and earn money in that jurisdiction. It was popularized during the 1991 NBA Finals when California taxed the Chicago Bulls on games played in Los Angeles. Illinois later retaliated with taxing the Los Angeles Lakers on games played in Chicago.


8. Xenddi was a discriminatory tax system which was implemented by the Portuguese Christian government on the Hindu population of Goa, Daman and Diu in India. It was a religious tax imposed on the native Indians, which forced many to flee Goa or convert in order to stay.


9. In 1784, Britain introduced a brick tax to pay for wars in the Americas Colonies. Bricks were taxed per thousand. This resulted in manufacturers using larger bricks. In 1801, the government responded by limiting the dimensions of brick and doubling the tax on larger bricks.


10. In 1698, Peter The Great introduced the "Beard Tax" after he visited Western Europe and liked their fashion sense. Anyone with a beard was forced to pay tax for it and in turn given a beard token. If you were stopped by the police without the token they would immediately shave your face on sight.


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11Breasts Tax

Until 1924, British colonizers imposed tax on the lower caste and untouchable Hindu women in the present-day Kerala state of India if they wanted to cover their breasts in public. The tax was evaluated by the tax collectors depending on the size of their breasts.


12. Switzerland has forced male-only conscription and the men that don't qualify are stamped with a high 'male tax.'


13. In the New Deal, Franklin D. Roosevelt called for a new tax program called the Revenue Act of 1935, which imposed an income tax of 79% on incomes over $5 million. This tax rate affected only one person, John D. Rockefeller.


14. During World War 2, USA imposed a 5% Victory tax on all individuals with incomes over $624 (2020 ~$10,000) with postwar credit.


15. In 1936, Pennsylvania imposed a 'temporary' tax on all alcohol sales to help out the victims of Johnstown Flood. That tax is still being charged.


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16Alcohol Concentration Tax

Alcohol's strength is measured in "proof" since 1500s when England increased taxes on drinks containing a higher percentage of alcohol. Officials measured alcohol’s strength by soaking gunpowder in the alcohol and trying to ignite it. If it ignited, this was "proof" that it had a high content.


17. Scientology obtained their tax exemption from the IRS by having personal investigators dig into the personal lives of IRS managers and initiating hundreds of lawsuits against IRS employees. Eventually, Scientology offered to drop all suits for religious tax exemption and the US government caved.


18. Chocolate was classified as "candy" under the Revenue Acts of 1918 and 1921, and so it was taxed as such. Hershey's sued to recover about $8,000,000 in taxes by arguing it was "food," and so had been wrongly taxed. The Supreme Court ruled it was "candy."


19. Norwegians only have to pay half of the tax they should be paying in November (compensating by paying more tax in other months), so that they can have more money during Christmas.


20. Many famous British artists, including Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones, left the UK in the early 70s to avoid an 83% tax on the top bracket of their income.


21Inheritance Tax

When Australia abolished its inheritance tax in 1979, a disproportionate number of parents died in the week immediately after the abolition went into effect, suggesting that many of their heirs were doing everything to keep them alive just long enough for the inheritance tax to expire.


22. The Rosetta Stone was a tax document outlining the tax-exempt status of a temple.


23. The Gas Guzzler Tax was introduced in the USA in 1978 to discourage the production and purchase of fuel-inefficient vehicles. Disregarding the shift towards SUVs and pickups, it still only applies to cars.


24. England used to have a "window tax." People refused to disclose how much money they made, considering it an invasion of privacy. So starting in 1696, English government started charging its citizens based on how many windows their house had. In retaliation, people bricked up their windows, traces of which can still be seen today.


25. Newspapers are so big (broadsheet) because the British government began taxing newspapers in 1712 based on the number of their pages.

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