Today I received an email reminding me its time to pre-order my tax preparation software.  Way to keep my holiday spending in check – remind me that tax time is just around the corner!

In any case, I got to thinking about taxes and how sometimes tax laws can be convoluted and confusing.  And just plain silly.  So, I did a little rooting around the internet and found some tax laws that are, at least, amusing.  For your enjoyment….

  • tax-blocksIn Ancient Rome, slaves would have to pay a tax when thy wanted to buy their freedom
  • During the Middle Ages, soap was often taxed in Europe. England didn’t repeal the soap tax until 1835.
  • In 1660, England established a tax on fireplaces. People ended up concealing their fireplaces with bricks to avoid paying the tax. This led to obvious health issues and the tax was repealed in 1689.
  • New York City levies a tax against prepared food. This means that sliced bagels are first taxed as food and then as prepared food.
  • In 1795, England began taxing the aromas that people put on their wigs to make them smell better. It wasn’t long until wigs went out of fashion.
  • In 1712, England began taxing printed wallpaper. People would avoid the tax by hanging regular wallpaper and then painting it.
  • Pittsburg taxes “fun” at 5%. Basically this includes anything that could potentially provide entertainment.
  • Denmark taxes cow farts. Well, it actually taxes cows…for every cow a farmer has, the farmer must pay $110. This is meant to curb greenhouse gas emissions due to cow flatulence.
  • Bribes were tax deductible in Germany until 2002
  • According to the IRS, ransom money is tax deductible
  • In Connecticut, if you buy diapers for yourself, they are exempt from tax. If you buy them for your kids though, you’ll have to pay up.
  • In Colorado, non-essential food packaging items are taxed. This means that you’ll have to pay for the lid on your plastic cup but not the plastic cup itself
  • In Sweden, you have to report your baby name to the national tax service for approval.
  • In California fruits are exempt from tax unless they are sold through a vending machine. Then you have to pay 33%.

So, now I know why those non-profits at the Sky Sox ballfield don’t offer lids.  And if, heaven forbid, I ever have to pay ransom, I should get a receipt.  And that I will save money by avoiding fun in Pittsburg and fruit in California vending machines.