Taxes may not seem the most exciting topic to discuss over dinner but believe it or not there are some wacky pieces of legislation around the world that are bound to put a smile on your face.
How would you feel if you had to pay the government more money to wear a hat, or grow a beard? How would you react if you had to spend extra tax for every single window in your home?
It is important that all Britons handle and pay their taxes appropriately to avoid a hefty fine from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Now as conventional as they are, over the years there have been a few strange taxes levied.
What kind of weird taxes are we talking about? Everything from playing cards to tax on soap! Many have been imposed and revoked years later but some are still in operation. Here are the top 6 bizarre taxes from around the globe.
From 1784-1811, there used to be a hat tax in Britain for all men. It was a way for the government to make extra revenue and it was largely the rich that were affected as they owned the most number of expensive hats. All retailers had to buy a special licence, display the sign in the store window and every hat had to have a stamp pasted inside the lining.
Anyone who failed to pay the hat tax was given a fine, and anyone caught trying to forge the stamp was given the ghastly death penalty. Hat’s off to the genius who invented this little scheme!
A state in America is so fond of its cultivation of blueberries that is has levied a tax against anyone who tries to grow, sell, buy or handle the plant. Maine has an official berry which produces 99% of the wild blueberries in the whole of the United States.
Another state in the US is barking mad too as it introduced a pet tax back in 2009 which is still in operation. North Carolina has ordered all its residents to list their furry friends as personal property so that the tax can be collected on each animal. It applies to cats and dogs over four months-old.
Back on English soil, King Henry VIII introduced a tax in 1535 for all men that had a beard. Despite the fact that the royal had a beard himself, the duty was levied and it varied on the wearer’s social position. His daughter, Elizabeth I, reintroduced the tax years later for every single beard that was more than two weeks old although how they knew the age of the beard is uncanny. Hairy or what!
Imagine being charged every single time you go to the loo? Well that’s the case in Maryland in America. All homeowners are charged a fee for flushing their toilets. It basically means they are being charged for producing waste water and it was introduced in 2005.
The window tax is a renowned UK tax dating back to 1696. The House and Windows Duties Act was passed by Parliament resulting in every house in England and Scotland being ordered to pay tax on each window. Simply put, the more windows your property had, the higher your tax was.
Type ‘window tax’ into Google and have a look for yourself at the kind of scenes that occurred. Many Britons bricked up their windows just to avoid the cost!
As you can see over the years there have been a few strange taxes levied, so perhaps the taxes by the government will appear more normal.
About the Author: This article was provided by Nixon Williams, the specialists in tax affairs for contractors across the UK.