Some of the strangest and bizarre taxes in the history

From cooking oil to tax on growing beards, here are history’s strangest and bizarre taxes.

Benjamin Franklin once remarked that in this world, there is nothing certain except for death and taxes. Wise words we must say, although the current economic crisis makes us believe that you could cheat death for once but never the taxes. If we look back on history across the world, we found that taxes have always been a vicious circle of pain for people. People have been taxed for everything and anything; here are some of the strangest taxes that have been imposed on the public through the years.

Wallpaper Tax

Apparently, in 18th Century England, the government got really crafty and creative to tax the privileged class. So, in 1712, lawmakers imposed a tax on the wallpaper. But not just any wallpaper, the printed ones. But people have always outwitted the government in ways to save money. In this case, people started using plain wallpaper and, after some time, painted designs on it.

Taxes on Windows

If wallpaper tax wasn’t enough, people were subjected to even more weird tax in Victorian England. People had to pay taxes, according to the number of windows one had in their house. But then, in 1851, when people started complaining of the health hazards of having less ventilation, the tax was dissolved.

Cooking oil

There was a strict tax on the reusing cooking oil in ancient Egypt. And the taxes were taken very seriously in those times. Any evasion of taxes would result in serious consequences and sometimeseven death. You had to buy fresh oil and pay taxes otherwise, faced dire consequences.


Russia’s emperor Peter the great, imposed a heavy tax on his subjects who didn’t shave. But he has a reason to do so. Peter, the Great wanted Russia to be modernized and be at par with the western tradition of shaving and grooming the beard. He, however, allowed his poor subjects to keep beards, but they had to cough up two kopeks a year. The rich aristocratic were supposed to pay 100 rubles to keep beards.

Coward tax

Don’t be surprised; there was a tax in medieval England that exempted knights from going on warfronts and expeditions. Knights could cough up coward tax and easily skip any military service on any campaign.

So, what is the most bizarre tax, you have ever paid?

Priyadarshini Kaul

Priyadarshini Kaul Mishra has two Master’s Degrees in English Literature and History. She is actively following her passion for the language by being a content creator since many years now. Besides this, Priyadarshini is a true bookworm at heart and tries to be an avid reader despite being a full-time mother now. She is also a professionally certified baker and puts on the oven mitts every now and then.
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