7 Bizzare Facts About Taxation We Bet You Didn't Know
Taxes have always been a complicated affair and we’ve already spent our time and energy getting you acquainted with the basics of taxation. Irrespective of which part of the globe you’re in, taxes affect us all. After all, you have to part with a share of whatever you earn or gain in the form of taxes every now and then.
Clearly, taxes are not everyone’s favorite, and people try to avoid having to deal with them. While we’re going to cover whether ignoring or finding loopholes to avoid taxes is a go choice or not later in this article, we first want to cover some of the most bizarre behavior that people exhibited in their journey of handling taxes.
Believe us, we are not going to talk about one-off scenarios but weird ways the entire nation’s population reacted to different types of taxes levied upon them. Quite frankly, not just people’s reactions, we found these taxes weird too.
Trust us, these bizarre facts about taxation from across the world will definitely crack you up!
Fun Fact 1: England had bricked windows against window taxes
If you had to choose between fresh air and sunlight and a lower tax bill, what would you prefer? We don’t about you but the people of the United Kingdom definitely chose the latter. Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, the governments in England, France, Ireland, and Scotland levied a tax on the number of windows in a house as one of the property taxes.
Source: Amusing Planet
While those getting new houses merely had to reduce the number of windows in their blueprint, the ones with existing houses with plenty of windows were in the soup. Matching the shrewdness of their governments, the people came up with a rather shrewd solution. They simply bricked up their windows to avoid paying the tax.
Fun Fact 2: Paris built houses with Mansard-style roofs against floors below roof tax
One of the famous types of French architecture, the Mansard-style roof gained a lot of popularity in the 1600s. So much so that it was characteristic of the Second Empire Style architecture back then. There’s no doubt that buildings designing in the Mansard style have their own charm due to their splendid roofline. However, the widespread adoption of the style cannot be attributed to how charming the building looked. The real reason that people actively chose Mansard-style roofline for their buildings was tax evasion.
Source: Designing Buildings
Mansard-style roofline added scope for a top floor within the roof structure such that even when it was habitable, it did not come off as a separate floor and thus was exempted from the floor tax–a tax that was levied based on the number of floors under the roof in French buildings.
Fun Fact 3: Twix saved on taxes in the US because of their special ingredient.
While all other candy manufacturers were busy filing taxes on their production, Twix got a sweet deal. In the US, certain ingredients differentiate luxury foods from essential groceries. This worked in Twix’s favor. The candy bar has one of its many ingredients as flour–a deciding factor that gets the bar listed as a grocery product and not a luxury.
Fortunately for the brand, 24 states in the US don’t tax groceries. As a result, Twix saved upon a major share of its revenue. The fun part–this wasn’t a conscious decision by the brand–just a coincident that worked in their favor.
Fun Fact 4: Greece painted its pools green against luxury taxes
Quick question–what’s the color of water? You’d probably say blue or some would also call it transparent and colorless. Well, if you happen to live in Greece, you’d have a different answer.
Greece has a peculiar luxury tax that is levied on every pool of over 25 meters squared under its tax law. Pool owners are bound to add a sum to their taxable income that’s sometimes close to 20,000 euros under the tax. So, in the hope of fooling the tax collectors monitoring satellite images, people in Greece use green coverings or even dye their pool water green to pass off their pools as gardens instead.
Nowadays, you’d also find floating tiles in the Greek houses covering the pools–just as a measure to avoid the pool tax.
Fun Fact 5: A part of Tesla secret to success could be tax subsidies
What’s the secret to Elon Musk’s success? His innovative thinking, his aiming for the stars attitude, or his business acumen? Choosing between these may be a little difficult. However, one of the definite contributing factors to the success of his company, Tesla, is tax subsidies.
Even though the entire shift towards sustainable growth and eco-friendly products has made electric automobiles quite popular, general federal and, in some cases, state tax subsidies also worked in their favor. It is cheaper to produce and own electric cars–not the actual cost but the taxes to be paid on them are way less.
Fun Fact 6: It was costly for Russians to have beards in the 1600s
Back in 1698, the emperor of Russia Peter I brought in the infamous beard tax in the Russian society. This agenda was to ban beards as a measure to imbibe Western European values in their culture.
However, in this case, people choose to pay taxes instead of going clean-shaven as it was a religious belief that men should wear a beard. So, even though the state levied taxes based on the social status of men (100 rubles for wealthy merchants, 60 rubles for townsfolk, and 30 for Muscovites), the tax did not lead to wide acceptance of clean-shaven men in the society. In fact, people with beards had to carry a beard token with them wherever they went to avoid being caught by the tsar police and publicly shaved.
Beard Token (Source: Wikipedia)
Bonus fact: King Henry VIII of England, also introduced the beard tax in England, though contemporary documentation has no mention of this.
Fun Fact 7: Taxes confused even the brightest of the minds.
If you think you have a hard time trying to make sense of the taxation laws in your country, you’re not alone. Even Einstien is with you. A theoretical physicist who gave us the theory of relativity, a man with an IQ between 160 and 180, found it hard to decipher taxes.
He said so himself. “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax”.
That being said, just because understanding taxes is hard, does not mean you shouldn’t give it a shot. We’ve prepared a quick, simplified guide on taxes to introduce you to the basics of taxation. Read it here.
Evading Taxes–Not a fun fact!
While some of these may have given you a good laugh over the lengths people go to avoid taxes, tax evasion is not a joke. Taxes are imperative to the smooth functioning of any nation in today’s world, and it is not just a legal obligation but a responsibility. As a citizen of a country, paying taxes accurately is your bit towards your nation. So, instead of finding ways to avoid it, always look for ways to judiciously pay taxes!