Some of the strangest taxes in history

In the words of Winston Churchill, “We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” Yet history is full of some of the weirdest taxes levied. Read on to know about a few of them.

Window Tax

The tax was first levied in 1696 in Britain as a way to assume the wealth of citizens and tax them. In simple words, more windows meant a bigger home hence, reflecting wealth. This meant that the person with more windows must pay more tax as compared to the one with fewer windows in the house. The tax was repealed in 1851 since in theory it made some sense but didn’t work as planned.

Tax on beards

It is rumoured that King Henry VIII of England commissioned a tax on beard however, there is no record of the same. However, in 1705, King Peter the Great of Russia did decide to tax the beard, the reason being, that he was trying to modernize and westernize Russia like the rest of Europe. As result, people would often shave off their beards to escape the tax!

Tax on cooking oil

Although the tax on cooking oil is quite normal nowadays, in ancient Egypt tax evasion was punishable by flogging or death. Even the recycling of cooking oil was against the law, if a guilty was found the used oil was impounded and the user was asked to buy new oil and pay the appropriate tax on it.

Tax on public toilets

In earlier times, ammonia-rich looswere used in several processes, including tanning, wool production, the cleaning and whitening of woolen togas, etc. In Ancient Rome, Emperor Vespasian decided to collect tax if someone decided to buy a public toilet tank.

Bachelor Tax

The first Emperor of Rome, Augustus employed a strange tax on unmarried men of 38 years or older. Further, 38-year-old unmarried men were also barred from attending public games. This did not stop then; in 1695, the English parliament taxed bachelors over 25 years old,and from 1941 to 1990, the Soviet Union taxed bachelors and single people in an attempt to handle declining demographics.

A Hat Tax

Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger 1784 imposed a tax on man’s hats in an attempt to pay off the national debt. The tax was imposed so sternly that anyone attempting to evade it or forge the stamp was sentenced to death. Ironically, all hats had a revenue stamp on the inner lining!

Glad to be living in modern times.

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