Tax laws are established for a reason, but sometimes that reason is a bit illogical or downright strange. There are many weird tax laws all around the world, with people being unaware of them until they’re caught breaking them.
Some of the reasons behind such laws may be logical in some sense, but that doesn’t make them any less unusual. Nevertheless, people should be aware of them and avoid going against them in order to save themselves the legal trouble. Let’s have a look at some of them below:
Russia and Beards
Russia’s weirdest tax law is probably the one about beards. Peter the Great, or Peter 1, wanted to modernize Russia back in 1698. To this end, he decided that beards were symbols of olden and backward times. He hence enforced a tax on beards in order to discourage men from rowing them altogether. This eccentric demand came from his travels in Western Europe, where most of the men in the royal courts didn’t have beards.
Back then, if any Russian wanted to sport a beard, they would have to get a token that showed they paid the required tax. Russian culture and tradition, as well as the cold climate, encouraged the growing of beards, so many males oppose this law. However, Peter won out in this instance and rules Russia for around 40 more years.
EU Nations and Cow Flatulence
Anyone who’s familiar with cows knows that they digest their food quite slowly. This leads to a lot of flatulence or methane gas. In Europe, that means that around 18% of all greenhouse gases were due to these cows. Slaughterhouses were the most to blame for this, as they grouped cows by the thousands in a very limited area. The combined gas was extremely harmful to the environment.
The solution they found was to tax cows, with the rates varying according to country. In Ireland, eat farmer paid a flatulence tax of $18 for each cow. In Denmark, though, the rates increased to $110 a cow
The United States and Air Balloons
There are actually quite a few weird laws just within the United States, but this one is one of the strangest. In the state of Kansas, the tax laws are especially unusual, including the one that says untethered air balloons wouldn’t be taxed.
This came about due to Kansas taxing any place that provides recreational services, entertainment, or amusement. Hot air balloons obviously fall into this category, but they also fall into the airline category. Since the Anti-head Tax Act holds states back from taxing airlines, this presented a quandary. Hence, untethered balloons were left untaxed, while the owners of the tethered ones had to pay certain fees.
Sweden and Baby Names
In the country of Sweden, there are certain baby names that aren’t approved by the tax agency. It’s not just up to the parents to name the baby. They also need the approval and seal of the tax agency before their child turns five years old.
If any set of parents don’t comply with the naming law, they would have to pay a very heavy fine. The reasoning behind this law is so that children wouldn’t have to be embarrassed or traumatized by an offensive, confusing, difficult, or overly controversial name. With the trend of people naming their children outlandish names these days, the law actually makes some sort of sense.
There’s even a list of unacceptable baby names released by the tax agency. Some examples from the list include the words ‘Allah’, ‘IKEA’, ‘Metallica’ and ‘Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116’. The last one was actually a protest by one couple against this law. However, the naming law is actually quite common in several other countries, including Denmark and Mexico.
Uganda and Social Media
Uganda imposed a tax on social media in 2018, which has remained quite controversial since them. It requires every citizen that uses popular social media platforms has to pay around 200 shillings for each day. This amount to just 5 cents in US money, but it’s still not free.
The Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, clarified that this tax is needed to reduce the amount of gossip and other unwanted activities online. He also said that the money from the taxation will be used to help the nation’s people cope with the effects of gossiping. Needless to say, the tax is very unpopular in the country, with people saying it interferes with their expressive freedom. However, the president is quite against social media in general, suspending all platforms during the 2016 elections. He did this on the claim that people spread lies using these sites.
Tanzania and Blogs
Blogging is a lucrative activity in this day and age, but it’s not as simple to do it in Tanzania. The Tanzanian government has imposed a heavy fine of $440 per year for blogging. This law was passed in March 2018 and required all the content creators online to have their own license and pay taxes on an annual basis.
While this law applies to online forum members, social media users, video and podcast creators, and any online radio and TV channels, it’s bloggers who are suffering the most. The law also requires the content creators to agree about not posting any content that’s offensive or contain ‘bad language’. Even annoying content is forbidden. This could include all sorts of content, so it severely limits bloggers in particular.
Registration with the Tanzanian Communications Regulatory Authority is also required, which cost around $44 in US dollars. The yearly tax is separate. If anyone defaults from the law, they can be fined around 2,500 US dollars, imprisoned for 12 years, or both.
The above laws can affect individuals and businesses in quite a serious manner. However, most of these laws might not even be implemented each time, so it’s a gamble. Staying on the right side of the law can be quite difficult, especially when the rules can be as ludicrous as the above example.