It’s our responsibility as citizens to pay taxes, no matter how illogical, strange, crazy or ludicrous these tax laws are. It turns out though, that these weird tax laws do not only occur in the United States, but they are also found in many other parts of the world. When it comes to raising public funds or implementing deductions, anything can be done, even if they’re completely wacky! Here are some of the weird tax laws of the following countries:
1. Russia – tax on beards
In the books of the world’s weirdest tax laws, Russia’s tax levied on beards is an enduring classic. Peter I, also known as Peter the Great, enforced the beard tax in 1698 as a part of his reform of modernizing Russia. It stemmed from his travels in the more modern Western European countries where he discovered that the men in royal courts were clean-shaven.
For Russian guys who refused to shave their beards, they must carry a token to show that they had paid their beard tax. Since growing beards used to be a part of a longstanding Russian tradition, it comes as no surprise that most hirsute men there resisted this strange law. In the end though, Peter prevailed — he went on to rule Russia for the next four decades or so.
2. Denmark, Ireland, other EU nations – tax on cow flatulence
Typically, cows slowly digest the greens that they eat, and this leads to flatulence — or in this case, farting methane gas. As a result, cows contributed about 18% of the greenhouse gases in Europe. This problem was made even more complicated by the slaughterhouses, where thousands of cows were housed in one area and belching enormous clouds of methane.
So the solution? These countries started taxing cows — the rates depend on the country. For instance, in Ireland farmers had to pay US $18 per cow, while in Denmark it’s a whopping US $110 per cow! It’s taxing in the name of saving Mother Earth!
3. Israel – tax on beer
Current Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu imposed tax on beer, which caused the prices of the beverage to double. For instance, what used to be 60 US cents per bottle is now US $1.20. The new tax law was the part of Netanyahu’s national belt-tightening measures — not surprisingly, it was met by brewing (pardon the pun) criticism by barkeeps and beer lovers alike.
4. United States – tax on tethered hot air balloons
The United States alone has tons of silly laws to begin with, so it’s hard to single one of them out. But for now, let’s take the state of Kansas because its tax laws are simply too quirky — that un-tethered hot air balloons would be exempt from tax.
How did this come to happen? In Kansas law, it imposes taxes for “any place providing amusement, entertainment or recreation services,” and these include hot air balloons. However, the federal Anti-Head Tax Act prohibits all states from exacting fees on airlines. So Kansas arrived at a rather unusual solution: tethered hot air balloons should be taxed. Un-tethered and manned balloons, on the other hand, will enjoy a tax break.
5. Sweden – baby naming requires tax agency approval
In Sweden, it’s not only the mothers and the fathers who should do the choosing for their children’s names. The parents should also need the expertise of a tax agency in baby-naming.
Swedish parents are required to have their son’s/daughter’s name with a seal of approval by the Swedish tax agency, just before the child turns five. If the parents fail to comply, they will be fined with a considerable sum of money. In Sweden, an approval from the tax agency is needed so that the child won’t suffer the embarrassment or trauma of having a confusing, offensive, or controversial name.
The tax agency has released a list of names that are deemed unacceptable: “Ikea,” “Allah,” and “Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116.” Yes, you read “Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116” right — they were actually named by one kid’s parents as their gesture of their protest to this strange law.