50 Shocking Facts About Taxes

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26Tax Payment with Rice

Tax Payment with Rice

In ancient Korea, rice was used as currency and to pay taxes. A rice payment law was even put in place during the 1600s which mandated collecting rice for state taxes. Consumption of rice was mostly limited to those from a higher socioeconomic status during this time.


27. "Bob Jones University" in South Carolina was established by a Christian evangelist and therefore didn't allow African-Americans to attend the university until 1971. From 1971 to 1976 the only blacks that were allowed were married couples. In 1982 they lost a Supreme Court case and had to pay back taxes from 1971. Interracial dating wasn't allowed at the university until 2000.


28. Due to a strange law in America where importing toys resembling humans are taxed higher than those that do not; Marvel successfully argued in court that because their X- men action figures are mutants, they should be exempt from the tax.


29. Witchcraft is so accepted in Romania that in 2011 the government tried to tax witches to help pull the country out of recession.


30. In 1949, students in Ghent, Belgium stormed a he medieval castle, lowered the portcullis, and threw fruits from the castle’s walls at the police to protest a new tax on beer. The event is still commemorated yearly by the city as the greatest student prank in its history.


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31Tax Payment with Rats

Tax Payment with Rats

In 1954, the city of Bombay in India had such a bad rat problem that they began accepting dead rats as tax payments. This led to the mass breeding and killing of rats to use them for payment.


32. Everyone in Iceland pays church tax, and the payment of those unaffiliated with a church goes to the University of Iceland [at least as of 2004].


33. In 1898, the U.S. Congress passed a tax on long-distance phone calls to pay for the Spanish-American War. The war ended 4 months later, but the tax remained in place for over 100 years. On August 1, 2006, the IRS announced it would no longer collect the tax.


34. Mercedes Sprinter was rebranded as Dodge in the US to avoid paying a "chicken tax" on light trucks. After World War 2, when cheap American chickens flooded the European market, Germany enacted a protectionist “Chicken Tax” on US Chickens. In response, the USA retaliated with its own import tariffs on Light Trucks.


35. After Oprah's famous "You get a car" episode, where she gave away 276 cars at a total cost of $7.6 million, many of the recipients sent in complaints to the show as they had all been charged $6000-$7000 "gift tax."


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36Historical Denmark Tax Rule

Historical Denmark Tax Rule

To collect taxes, King Christian IV of Denmark asked captains of ships crossing the Øresund to estimate the value of their cargo, which was applied as the tax base without further audit. The king also claimed the right to buy the entire cargo at exactly that price if he decided.


37. Procter & Gamble argued for years that Pringles were not potato chips, but Britain's Supreme Court of Judicature ultimately determined that they were and required Procter & Gamble to pay $160 million in taxes.


38. With only 324 households declaring ownership of a swimming pool on their tax form and fearing tax evasion, Greek authorities turned to satellite imagery for further investigation of Athens' northern suburbs. They discovered a total of 16,974 swimming pools.


39. Wooden sticks were used to record tax payments in Britain until 1826. In 1834, two cartloads of such sticks were burnt in a furnace in the London Parliament House. Besides destroying centuries of valuable data, it also caused a chimney fire that ended up burning down the whole Parliament.


40. The first piece of legislation passed by the 1st U.S. Congress was the Tariff of 1789, which levied a 50¢ per ton duty on goods imported by foreign ships. President Washington signed the act and the money was used to pay off the Revolutionary War debt.


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41Tax Deduction

Tax Deduction

In 1994, an exotic dancer named Cynthia Hess got the IRS to agree that her breast implants were a business expense and were therefore deductible from taxes as a business expense.


42. Converse shoes have "fuzzy soles" so that they can be imported as slippers, which dramatically reduces import taxes.


43. Prince John who became the inspiration for the antagonist against Robin Hood raised taxes on the general population to 13% in 1207. This became a factor in the creation of the Magna Carta which limited the king's taxation power among other things.


44. When the CEO of discount supermarket chain ALDI was kidnapped, he haggled about his ransom money and claimed the sum as a tax-deductible business expense in court after his release.


45. In 1800s, England enacted laws to tax any timber that came from Europe and Canada in order to prefer timber imports from USA. Unfortunately this law did not apply to lumber that made up the ship. Canadian loggers began building large, barely seaworthy ships that would be broken up for timber once they reached British shores.


46Car Puschase Tax

Car Puschase Tax

Lotus cars were initially sold as car kits which the buyer has to assemble themselves. This was done to save up on purchase tax. It wasn't until the late 1960's that they set up a factory and started manufacturing the whole car and selling them.


47. Thanks to a Swedish tax law regarding costumes, ABBA's stage clothes were designed outlandishly on purpose. As long as they were impractical for everyday wear, the group's outfits were tax-deductible.


48. Until 1999, bribes were a tax-deductible business expense in Germany, and there were no penalties for bribing foreign officials. The German company Siemens used to engage in bribery in developing countries, where bribery was common and continued to do so after Germany criminalized it in 1999.


49. Cruise lines pay almost no taxes thanks to a maritime law loophole called "flags of convenience." Despite being headquartered in Miami, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings have all of their ships registered in the Bahamas. Carnival Cruise Line has all of its ships registered in Panama.


50. Adolf Hitler spent years evading taxes and owed German authorities 405,000 Reichsmarks, equivalent to $8 million today. Soon after he took power, he was declared free of tax obligations.

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