To earn a certain amount of money and then pay half of it as tax is an excruciating topic most people cringe at the thought of. However, we are deemed to pay the amount for the governing of the state in a polite manner. The process of tax payment is one of the oldest system our ancestors and now us have been dealing with. In earlier civilizations too, tax implementation was livid and compulsory. However, there used to be numeral forms of tax some of which that were bizarre in nature. Some of these implementations were curbed over the period of time and some of these were greatly revolted against.
- THE URINE TAX
Rome has always been the empire with uncanny history. The lifestyle of the gone empires still runs a trail of curiosity and immense amazement to us. To add to those fragments, The Roman emperor Vaspasian, in the 1st century AD, placed a tax on urine. The tax required the buyers of urine to pay the tax. The urine gathered from public urinals was sold as an ingredient to process leather tanning as well as the urine used to be sold by the launderers as a source of ammonia to clean and starch woolen togas etc.
- THE BREAST TAX
Over 200 hundred years ago, when caste system and simultaneously based racism were thriving in every corner of India; the kings of higher castes levied a tax on women of the lower castes. Since the lower caste people were condemned from covering their bodies with fabric or any other form of clothing material, they were asked peregrinate naked. The tax was based on the size of a woman’s breast. The ridiculous system dictated that the larger the breast size, the higher the amount of tax had to be paid. This discrimination caused immense psychological trauma to the people of Kerala, where the system was affluent.
- THE SLAVE TAX
In the early years of Rome, slaves were often freed by their masters after a certain period of time. This was possible only if the slaves could manage to pay a huge amount of ransom to their masters to buy away themselves. Often, the slaves worked at multiple places during their meager free time to earn the money so as to pay their master. After the payment was negotiated, the slaves were further asked to pay a tax to the empire. Freedom comes with a tip!
- THE CARD TAX
Not all games are fun and free. In the early 16th century, playing cards were taxed. The tax amount deliberately escalated in 1710 when the English government profusely raised taxes on playing cards and dice. The tax was removed in 1960 since forgeries had begun to be made of cards in order to not pay heavy taxes.
- TAX ON FIREPLACE
England too like Rome had had a history of unusual and unnecessary tax planning. In the year 1660, the government of the king levied taxes on fireplaces. People thus, to hide from paying these taxes started to cover up their fireplaces with a mount of bricks. The implementation was abolished in 1969.
The historic tax known as Jizya, was a tax payment mandatory according to the holy book of Quran. The tax was due to be paid by non Muslim residents under an Islamic state as a fee for their protection by the state. The tax was a form of tenet which was levied on the Jews, Hindus and Christians and Muslims were excluded from paying the Jizya.
- THE WINDOW TAX
In 1969 again, the government of England started to levy taxes on the number of windows a single house comprised. The calculated tax thus increased according to the growing number of windows. People then started to conceal or destroy the windows which further led to claustrophobia and illnesses. The tax was uplifted in 1850.
- THE CANDY TAX
There are other forms of such absurdities hidden among the pages of history, some of which are ticklish to the current society where we can fight against such anomalies whereas some of these old traditions are shocking and raises a debatable set of questions on a long gone biased and inhuman civilization of the past.