10 Bizarre Taxes Around the World

April 9, 2018

Taxes are literally as old as civilization. The ancient Egyptians developed a primitive form of of them. They involved setting aside a certain portion of one’s crops to be given to the pharaoh; various other types have existed in every stage of recorded history. Because they’ve been around for so long, there’s been enough time for lots of strange and unusual taxes to come about. In this post, we’d like to take a break from more serious matters and take a look at some of the more peculiar ones from across the globe. Our top ten list follows.

(1) Amusements in Kansas 

In the state of Kansas, if you decide to go for a hot-air balloon ride without staying tethered to the ground, then your ride will be considered a type of transportation and is tax-free. But, if you remain tethered while staying in the hot-air balloon, the experience is subject to taxation as an “amusement” ride by the state of Kansas. Participants can expect to pay a rate of 6.5%! 

(2) Candy Taxes in Illinois 

In 2009, the state of Illinois implemented a “candy tax” on certain foods. The Illinois Department of Revenue laid out guidelines for classifying a given food as candy. If a food requires refrigeration or contains flour, then it is not considered candy and will be subject to the standard rate which applies to other food. This definition has led to somewhat peculiar results, but this one on candy remains on the books. 

(3) Cow Flatulence in Denmark 

The state of Denmark is attempting to make serious efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Toward this end, Denmark has implemented a tax on cows because of their methane gas emissions. The going rate stands at a flat $110 per cow. This “cow flatulence tax” from Denmark is part of a larger effort across Europe to significantly reduce gas emissions of this sort. 

(4) Card Taxes in Alabama 

In the state of Alabama, if you buy a deck of cards, you’ll be subject to an additional tax of ten cents per deck. Alabama is currently the only state in the U.S. to impose such a burden. This can be considered a specific type of sin tax, given that the purpose is essentially to curb gambling-related behavior. 

(5) Crack Taxes in Tennessee 

Believe it or not, in Tennessee, if you deal drugs, there are State taxes on earnings from your illegal activities. The state requires that drug dealers make an anonymous payment to the state revenue office and receive a special stamp to prove that they’ve complied with the law. The added fee was implemented in 2005. If a drug dealer is caught without a stamp, the state collects payment when dealer is apprehended. 

(6) The Toyless Cereals of Canada 

In Canada, if a box of cereal contains a toy for its consumer, then the box of cereal is nontaxable. But, if the cereal box doesn’t contain a toy, then it’s subject to tax. Technically, then, this is more a bizarre exemption, but it is still worth mentioning. People shopping for cereal in Canada should look for boxes with toys just so they can save a bit more money.  

(7) Pornography in Italy & France 

In Italy, consumers of pornography must pay a tax of 25%. In France, the situation is the same, but the French taxes are more egalitarian. Simply put, Italy taxes pornography only if it is considered particularly graphic. France taxes all graphic material found in sex shops.  

(8) Pets of North Carolina 

This tax was actually removed in 2013. It’s still worth mentioning, though, because of its level of strangeness. In Durham County, North Carolina, residents there was a tax on pets. The cost was $10, for neutered or spayed pets. The tax increased to $75 if they were not. 

(9) Window Taxes in Great Britain 

This tax is actually no longer in effect. Nonetheless, its degree of oddness also makes it something just begging make our list. This tax, in place between 1696 and 1851, targeted the wealthy classes. The rich generally had larger homes and therefore also larger windows and so the rich shouldered a disproportionate share of the funds generated. The imposition eventually ended, in part, because many people were bricking up their windows to avoid the tax, and this practice led to health problems for many citizens. 

(10) Taxing Bagels in New York 

Given our location, this seems like a fitting tax to round out our list. New York has a special bagel tax. It applies specifically to altered bagels. If you buy an unaltered (i.e. unsliced, untoasted, without toppings, etc.) bagel, you pay only the usual sales tax. If, however, your bagel is otherwise altered, you pay an extra eight cent tax on your purchase.  

Call Us Today For More!

As we can see, there’s plenty of interesting and bizarre taxes around the globe. And these are just the ones that are currently in place; history has seen some previous eras with ones arguably even more strange than those identified here today. In the future, we will go back and look at some of the more bizarre taxes from these older periods. The attorneys at Mackay, Caswell & Callahan, P.C. make an effort to keep up with all sorts of news; we feel that the more we know about tax, the better. If you’re in need of assistance with an issue of any kind, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one a top NYC tax attorney today. 


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What are Sin Taxes?  – New York City Tax Attorney 5 years ago

[…] range of products and services; in one of our recent posts, for instance, we discussed a tax on untethered hot-air balloon rides in the state of Kansas! Not only are there taxes on a wide variety of different things, we also […]

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What are Sin Taxes?  – New York City Tax Attorney 5 years ago

[…] range of products and services; in one of our recent posts, for instance, we discussed a tax on untethered hot-air balloon rides in the state of Kansas! Not only are there taxes on a wide variety of different things, we also […]

Leave a comment

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