Did you know…

Throughout history tax has been used to raise revenue, bring about social change, and strengthen governments. It has also made entire societies live quirky lifestyles in order to pay as little as possible.

As long as tax has existed, citizens of the world have paid a host of weird and wonderful dues. Here are some of the more unusual taxes ever introduced.

  • During the Middle Ages, soap was taxed in some European nations. The tax stayed in effect for about a hundred years. Great Britain repealed its soap tax in 1835.
  • In 1660, England put a tax on fireplaces. Citizens began to cover their fireplaces with bricks to hide them and avoid the tax. It was repealed in 1689.
  • Later that century, in 1696, England began to tax houses on the amount of windows they had. This led builders to build houses with fewer windows, which in turn caused widespread health problems. England repealed the tax in 1851.
  • In Russia 1705, Emperor Peter the Great implemented a beard tax, in hopes it would force men to adopt the clean-shaven look popular in Western Europe.
  • New York City has a sliced bagel tax. The city taxes prepared food as well as general food, which means sliced bagels are taxed once as a food item and again as a prepared food item.
  • In California, fresh fruit bought from a vending machine is taxed at 33%.