Filing taxes is an annual occurrence. However, that doesn’t make it less stressful, or surprising for that matter. And even though there are great resources that help filling small businesses taxes for the first time easier, many people still get anxious around tax week.
However, here’s something that will make you feel much better. We discovered that some countries around the world have the most bizarre tax laws that make absolutely no sense. These laws taxes are related to everything from child names and the arts, to facial hair.
Here are 8 weird tax laws around the world that will definitely make you feel better about your own taxes.
China fined non-smokers
You read that right, China once encouraged its citizens to smoke. You may be wondering what could cause a government to publicly endorse an activity that could potentially harm their health. Unsurprisingly, it was in the best interest of the economy.
In 2009, the Chinese government found itself in an economic crisis. Most of the tax money came from the sales of cigarettes and increasing sales was the only way to generate revenue and dig the economy out of recession.
The result was some officials deciding to set quotas on the sales of cigarette packs. It might have not been the healthiest decision, but it worked.
Shave or pay a fine in Russia
For this, we travel to Russia back in the 1700s when Peter the Great was the ruler. The man is known for many things, but today we’ll be talking about his unique feelings about facial hair. As you know, Russia is cold and temperatures can drop as low as – 45 degrees. One of the adaptations of the citizens was to grow a full facial hair to provide some kind of warmth.
However, when Peter the Great toured Western Europe, he was surprised to find the people shaven and without magnificent beards. As a dictator, he was bent on enforcing the same culture in Russia, and developed financial deterrents for people who didn’t agree.
In order to have a beard in Russia, the rule became that you had to show a token as proof that you’ve paid your beard tax. Only in Russia would shaving be more expensive than letting your hair grow.
Free cereal toys for everyone in Canada
Ever since cereal manufacturers found that kids love getting free toys in their boxes, they became more inclined to include the playthings. But in Canada, competition and increased sales aren’t the only incentives for putting toys in cereal boxes.
Manufacturers that include toys enjoy a specific tax break from the government. If you own a business, you know that the goal is often to keep as much money as possible, and tax breaks often help a great deal.
The only caveat was that the toys could not be classified as any kind of alcoholic drink. But that begs the question, “why would anyone include beer or wine in a children’s cereal box?”
Register your child’s name or pay a fine in Sweden
If you’ve ever tried to pick a name for your child, you know it can be very stressful. There are a million possibilities, and you often have to consult your partner and possibly parents before deciding.
But in Sweden, you’ll have to consult the Swedish tax agency as well or pay a fine equivalent to almost $800! The law was initially created to prevent people from choosing royal names for their children.
But other names have been rejected as well. For example, if you tried to name your child Allah or Ikea, it probably won’t fly for obvious reasons. What’s interesting is that most swedes actually love their tax agency (8 out of 10 people according to a 2013 survey.)
Tax break for artists in Ireland
The phrase “starving artist” has a slightly different meaning in Ireland. While it might still take you a while to get off the ground, you will pay less in taxes.
Ireland is one of the few countries that fully commits to boosting the arts. They do that by offering tax exemptions to writers, sculptors, and other artists under specific situations. The situation involves the artist filing a claim with the Revenue Commissioners who decide their work’s originality, creativity and cultural merit.
This may create a dilemma for many artists. On the one hand, they can focus on their work without working about taxes. On the other hand, they have to be subject to judges who determine if their work is “original ” enough.
Google and similar countries pay tax in France
You may be thinking, “don’t countries like Google pay tax normally?” And the answer is no. Because their revenue is not obtained traditionally, many countries are unable to tax tech companies quite the same.
However, that hasn’t stopped France and many European countries from enforcing what’s known as the Google tax. The most recent iteration has internet companies owning the country up to $5 billion in back taxes based on circumvented laws.
Cow owners pay tax in Denmark
If we asked, “what’s the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe?” you’re very likely to say automobiles and factories. But a study found that the culprit was actually flatulence from cows, and they contribute up to 18% of the continent’s greenhouse gases.
To regulate this, several countries have levied the ownership of cows. However, none took it as far as Denmark where you could pay over $100 in taxes for a single cow.
Several weird tax situations in the U.S.
The U.S. is certainly one of the most interesting countries in the world, and the tax laws are just as intriguing. There are enough of them to write an entire post about, but one interesting one is on hot air balloons and the tax breaks they enjoy.
In Kansas, balloons not tethered to the ground enjoy a tax break because the state and federal tax laws differ.
Other tax laws in the U.S. that will get you scratching the back of your head include deductions for donating deer carcass and getting clarinet lessons based on an orthodontist recommendation.
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