You might feel like some of the tax laws out there make life just that little bit awkward, and even downright annoying. But to be truthful, tax has always been hard to get your head around hasn’t it? And if you need any persuading, take a look below at five of the strangest tax laws ever put into place.
1. Russia: the beard tax
Yes, that’s right, the beard tax. Hipsters beware, if you’re a lover of facial hair, be grateful you weren’t around in 18th century Russia. In the 1700s, the Tsar tried to modernise the look of Russia by introducing a tax onto all men with beards. the law stated that any Russian man wanting to keep his beloved beard had to pay an annual fee, before being given a beard token to carry with him to prove he’d paid his tax. Ridiculous.
2. UK: the biscuit tax
You've probably heard of the Jaffa Cakes debate – are they cakes? Are they biscuits? It might seem a ridiculous argument to have but its actually super important for tax reasons. Under UK tax law, biscuits and cakes are deemed as necessities, meaning they’re exempt from VAT. But it gets better. Chocolate covered biscuits are seen as a luxury good and are taxed at 20%, leading McVities to a tribunal to prove Jaffa Cakes are indeed cakes. And just so you know, cakes go hard when stale, whereas biscuits on the other hand go soft.
3. USA: the dancing tax
Dad dancers and Saturday night boogiers once had to be careful about stepping foot into the US state of Washington. Here, music venues were once taxed if their customers had the cheek to dance on the premises.
The law was pretty much forgotten until recently, when the state tried to bring it back, but luckily - or unluckily depending on the quality of your dancing - the tax was scrapped for good.
4. Netherlands: the witchcraft tax
In many countries witchcraft was once a crime that carried the death penalty. But today people training in the art of magic and witchcraft in the Netherlands actually get tax deductions! From potion making to crystal ball reading and even spell casting, earn tax relief and become a witch in the Netherlands today. Or maybe not...
5. UK: the knight tax
Way back in the days of Henry I in the 11th century, scutage tax (from the Latin scutum for ‘shield’) was a tax placed on English knights who didn't fancy going to war. During Henry’s reign the tax was fairly low and was more of a warning. But later, King John raised the tax by a heft 300%! The upset that followed eventually led to the formation of the Magna Carta.
What's the most ridiculous tax you've come across? Cue the IR35 mob...