surprised and confused solicitor

Strange Tax Laws From Across The Globe

Unsurprisingly, tax laws are often born with the ulterior motive of provoking social changes, or for a few extra pennies in the revenue pocket. Frequently, these come with undertones of absurdity. Stonehouse Accountants dives into some of the weird and wonderful tax laws that have ever been created across the world. 

Tethered Hot Air Balloon Tax

We’ll start the list in Kansas, USA. It is here that air balloons that are not tethered to the ground become tax-exempt. And this one was relatively recent, having become law in 2010! It was created from the grey area between Kansas’ own entertainment tax (anywhere providing amusement, entertainment or recreation services), and the federal Anti-Head Tax Act (that prohibits local jurisdictions from placing fees and charges on airlines and passengers). Seems like an obvious solution. 

Salt Tax; A Bitter Taste

The French salt tax, or the Gabelle, which was founded in the mid 14th Century, was loathed by most. So much so, that it was a contributing factor to the French Revolution. Considered widely unfair, and as many did during the American prohibition area, smuggling salt became a frequent activity to make it covertly available. It can be said that this one was purely for revenue purposes, and it remained until the mid-1900s when it was finally outlawed. 

Tax On Candles

Ever wondered where the idiom ‘burn the candle at both ends’ originates? In 1789, England introduced a tax where candle-makers fell victim to taxation, and to produce candles must hold a valid license. The only candles that were exempt were known as ‘rush candles’. They provided light for a very short period of time and were created out of animal fat. These candles could be lit at either end and as the old saying goes… By 1831, this law was banished which triggered widespread popularity for candles. 

Cow Flatulence Tax

In a bid to generate a positive move towards a greener future, the Cow Flatulence Tax was formulated. Scientific findings suggest that 18% of Europe’s greenhouse gases is awarded to the humble cow. This is because of the methane that is exhumed when the animal fluctuates. Concentrated levels of the gas were discovered in specific areas, namely, slaughterhouses. The response? To place a tax on it, with the highest rate landing on Denmark. 

The Russian Beard Tax

With thanks to Peter the Great, the czar who reigned Russia for 43 merciless years in the 1600s. This tax was inspired by his tour across Western Europe, where he discovered that courts were largely occupied by clean-shaven men. On his return, he created the Beard Tax. This was one was unfortunate, considering the unforgiving climate of the country. Nonetheless, it became the law that any man owning a beard must hold in possession a certain token as proof of their tax receipt.

Curse The Taxman; Tax On Witchcraft

Among Salina Turda salt mines, the Carpathian Mountains and the inspiration for Dracula, Romania is also distinguished for its flourishing superstition industry. Professions such as witchcraft and fortune-telling are pretty standard in Romanian business, however, such trades were not recognised by the government as taxable. That was, of course, up until the country found itself in a recession. Suddenly, in 2011, more unconventional jobs such as these became subject to tax revenue generation. A 16% income charge became the price of their profession. 

Naturally, the witches were not happy. Their response was to threaten the politicians responsible for the law by throwing a mandrake plant into the water at the tip of the Danube River, thus, cursing it. 

No Funny Business

These are only a few of the wild and absurd tax laws that survive, and have ever existed. Who knows what new rules and regulations surrounding tax are likely to emerge as society marches deeper into the 21st century? 

Stonehouse Accountants is a firm build on forward-thinking and expertise. Though some of these tax laws may seem laughable, there are some that require a certain amount of responsibility and attention. If you are someone who requires such professional assistance, we are always wholly welcoming of new clients and challenges! Contact us here, or give us a call on 01733 265888.