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10 of the strangest taxes in history – October 2014

As long as tax has existed, citizens of the world have paid a host of weird and wonderful dues. Throughout history tax has been implemented to raise revenue, bring about social change, and strengthen the leadership of governments.  It has also made entire societies live very strangely — and in some cases, illegally — to pay as little as possible.

Here are 10 of the more unusual taxes ever introduced:

  • New York City has a sliced bagel tax.  The city taxes prepared food as well as general food, which means sliced bagels are taxed once as a food item and again as a prepared food item.
  • In California, fresh fruit bought from a vending machine is taxed at 33%.
  • In New Mexico, citizens over 100 years old are exempt from tax, but only if they are not dependents.
  • In the US, states such has Iowa, New Jersey and Pennsylvania exempt pumpkins from sales tax but only if they will be eaten.  If they are to be carved, the tax applies.
  • In 2005, Tennessee implemented an anonymous tax on any illegal substances sold by drug dealers in the state.
  • Many US states tax the sale of marijuana, even though marijuana is illegal on a federal level.
  • During the Middle Ages, soap was taxed in some European nations.  The tax stayed in effect for about a hundred years.  Great Britain repealed its soap tax in 1835.
  • In 1660, England put a tax on fireplaces.  Citizens began to cover their fireplaces with bricks to hide them and avoid the tax.  It was repealed in 1689.
  • Later that century, in 1696, England began to tax houses on the amount of windows they had.  This led builders to build houses with fewer windows, which in turn caused widespread health problems.  England repealed the tax in 1851.

In Russia 1705, Emperor Peter the Great implemented a beard tax, in hopes force men to adopt the clean-shaven look popular in Western Europe.

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