25 Strange Tax Laws You Would Probably Have Issues With

Taxes, we love to hate them. They cause more conflict than anything else on Earth. In fact, the majority of wars have been waged over money and taxes. Even conflicts like the American Civil War that are typically taught from a strong ideological standpoint of “right versus wrong” were actually influenced heavily by taxation. Throughout history there has not been a single known civilization that hasn’t taxed its citizens in some way or another. They all required tax. While these days taxes are fairly predictable, in the past there were some strange laws concerning what could and couldn’t be taxed. In Ancient Rome for example, urine was taxed because it was valuable for washing laundry (yes, they used it to wash laundry due to the ammonia in the urine). During the middle ages there were some kings that charged “coward taxes” to knights who didn’t want to fight in battle. It’s not like we’re completely exempt these days though. The IRS offers tax exemptions on ransom money. And it requires thieves to report they’re stolen property (although they can do so as “other income”). It’s a strange world we live in and our tax laws reflect that. These are 25 strange tax laws you would probably have issues with.

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Featured Image: 401(K) 2012 via Flickr

25

In Ancient Rome, slaves would have to pay a tax when they wanted to buy their freedom

In Ancient Rome, slaves would have to pay a tax when they wanted to buy their freedomSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
24

During the Middle Ages, soap was often taxed in Europe. England didn't repeal the soap tax until 1835.

During the Middle Ages, soap was often taxed in Europe. England didn't repeal the soap tax until 1835.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
23

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 This led to obvious health issues and the tax was repealed in 1689.

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 This led to obvious health issues and the tax was repealed in 1689.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
22

New York City levies a tax against prepared food. This means that sliced bagels are first taxed as food and then as prepared food. It's a double tax.

New York City levies a tax against prepared food. This means that sliced bagels are first taxed as food and then as prepared food. It's a double tax.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
21

In 1885 Canada instituted the Chinese Head Tax, which taxed Chinese immigrants entering the country. In 1923 it was replaced by a law banning Chinese immigration altogether.

In 1885 Canada instituted the Chinese Head Tax, which taxed Chinese immigrants entering the country. In 1923 it was replaced by a law banning Chinese immigration altogether.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
20

Although it is illegal on the federal level, some states still tax marijuana

Although it is illegal on the federal level, some states still tax marijuanaSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
19

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 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.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
18

The US federal government taxes stolen property. On the 1040 form you are supposed to report it as such, but this violates the constitutional right against self incrimination. So, you can choose to just report it as "other income".

The US federal government taxes stolen property. On the 1040 form you are supposed to report it as such, but this violates the constitutional right against self incrimination. So, you can choose to just report it as "other income".Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
17

In 1712, England began taxing printed wallpaper. People would avoid the tax by hanging regular wallpaper and then painting it.

In 1712, England began taxing printed wallpaper. People would avoid the tax by hanging regular wallpaper and then painting it.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
16

Pittsburg taxes "fun" at 5%. Basically this includes anything that could potentially provide entertainment.

Pittsburg taxes "fun" at 5%. Basically this includes anything that could potentially provide entertainment.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
15

When the French taxed salt (it was known as the gabelle) many people were angered and eventually it led to the French Revolution

When the French taxed salt (it was known as the gabelle) many people were angered and eventually it led to the French RevolutionSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
14

Some states like New Jersey exempt pumpkins from a sales tax but only if they are meant to be eaten and not carved.

Some states like New Jersey exempt pumpkins from a sales tax but only if they are meant to be eaten and not carved.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
13

In Chicago all candy is subject to 6% tax unless it contains flour. Then it is taxed at 1%.

In Chicago all candy is subject to 6% tax unless it contains flour. Then it is taxed at 1%.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
12

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.

Denmark taxes cow farts. Well, it actually taxes cows...for every cow a farmer has to pay $110. This is meant to curb greenhouse gas emissions due to cow flatulence.Source: wikipedia, Image: pixabay
11

Bribes were tax deductible in Germany until 2002

Bribes were tax deductible in Germany until about 2002Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
10

Oliver Cromwell taxed his political opponents, the Royalists, at 10%. He then used that money to fight against the Royalists.

Oliver Cromwell taxed his political opponents, the Royalists, at 10%. He then used that money to fight against the Royalists.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
9

Roman Emperor Vespasian imposed a urine tax on his people because urine was often used for cleaning laundry due to its ammonia content

In Maryland and Virginia there is a tax on flushing the toiletSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
8

Starting in 2005, Tennessee has required drug dealers to anonymously pay tax on any drugs that they sell

Starting in 2005, Tennessee has required drug dealers to anonymously pay tax on any drugs that they soldSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
7

According to the IRS, ransom money is tax deductible

According to the IRS, ransom money is tax deductibleSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
6

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 Connecticut, if you buy diapers for yourself, they are exempt from tax. If you buy them for your kids, you'll have to pay up.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
5

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 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 itselfSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
4

In Sweden, you have to report your baby name to the national tax service for approval.

In Sweden, you have to report your baby name to the national tax service for approval.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
3

In California fruits are exempt from tax unless they are sold through a vending machine. Then you have to pay 33%.

In California fruits are exempt from tax unless they are sold through a vending machine. They you have to pay 33%.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
2

The cowardice tax (known as scutage) was levied by King Henry I. Basically it let knights pay their way out of fighting in a war.

The cowardice tax (known as scutage) was levied by King Henry I. Basically it let knights pay their way out of fighting in a war.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
1

The hat tax was established by the British government in 1784. To avoid paying the tax, vendors started using words other than "hat" to refer to headgear. Eventually it was repealed in 1811.

The hat tax was established by the British government in 1784. To avoid paying the tax, vendors started using words other than "hat" to refer to headgear. Eventually it was repealed in 1811.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia


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