Throughout history, we come across weird taxes imposed on the public. While we debate on the pros and cons of fat tax that Kerala introduced on July 8, here are some of the strangest taxes.
1. Beard tax: In 1705, Russian emperor Peter the Great toured Western Europe and he was mighty impressed with clean-shaven men. But how was he to bring this culture to his population? In 1700s, beards were pretty common for most of the men in chilly Russia. So, a beard tax was imposed in the hope that this would force men to shave. In order to have a beard, one had to carry a token showing they had paid their beard tax.
2. Urine tax: What a stinky tax! During the 1st century AD, Roman emperors Vaspasian and Nero placed a tax on urine. The Romans valued urine for its ammonia content. It was used for laundering clothes, tanning leather and even brushing teeth. Launderies collected urine even from public toilets. With such high demand for urine, Vaspasian and Nero earned a pretty penny by taxing the trade in urine.
3. Cow flatulence tax: You might think factories and jam-packed roads are the cause of greenhouse gases resoponsible for global warming. The Europeans, however, have identified one more culprit—cow flatulence. Studies have found that methane released while cows digest greens may account for up to 18 per cent of Europe's greenhouse gases. Slaughterhouses, which store thousands of cows in one location, create large clouds of methane, adding to the problem. In order to control this, several countries in the European Union have imposed taxes on cows. While the tax is $18 per cow in Ireland, cow flatulence will cost Danish farmers $110 per cow.
4. Window tax: Wealthy folks live in bigger houses, and bigger houses have more windows. In an attempt to impose an income tax on the rich (without really putting it that way), England implemented a window tax in 1696. Houses were taxed based on the number of windows they had. This, however, led to many houses having very few windows. Eventually, this caused health problems and ultimately led to withdrawal of the tax in 1851.
5. Playing cards tax: Wanna play a game of poker? Be ready to pay some extra cash if you are in the state of Alabama in the US. Anyone who purchases or sells a deck of cards in Alabama is subject to tax. If you love card games, you should probably consider moving to Nevada where each tax return filed is rewarded with a free deck of playing cards.