A Brief History
On December 31, 1695, a tax on windows went into effect in England, which resulted in many people boarding up or bricking up their windows so that they would not be subject to the tax.
In a never-ending quest to take every penny, farthing, ruble, peseta, pfennig, shekel and sou from every last working person, governments all around the world show unlimited ingenuity when it comes to dreaming up things to tax, no matter how stupid.
Russia made a bid for a spot in this article by passing a tax on beards in 1698, which was an effort to force Russians to look more westernized. Why not just look like Russians? It is not like the rest of the world was fooled!
Americans have never been happy about taxes. Back when the United States was still the Colonies, the people of Boston held their famous “Tea Party” to show their displeasure over the British tea tax.
Licenses are often nothing but fancy taxes. In some American states, one must have a license in order to ride a bike or own a dog. Heck, Durham North Carolina flat out has a dog tax; $75 if the canine is not spayed or neutered. Speaking of license, why do we pay as much for the car registration stickers as we did for new plates to begin with?
In Ohio, food “to go” is not taxed, but food consumed on the premises is, which does not make sense. Even more confusing, soft drinks used to be considered non-taxable food when bought “to go” but have been taxed for several years now anyway.
Utah, the closest thing to a theocracy in the United States, levies a 10% tax on nudity, full or partial, when used to help attract customers. California has done its part to ruin the health of its citizens by imposing a 33% tax on fruit from vending machines (but not from bins or counters). New York City is famous for its food, especially for the food bought in its coffee shops and delis, but an 8-cent tax is imposed on bagels that are sliced, whereas there is no surcharge if the bagel is not sliced in two. Spread my cream cheese on the top, please!
In an effort to trump up charges against people caught in the possession of or selling drugs, many states (perhaps 20) have taxes on illegal drugs. Great, so now we can crowd the jails even more. Arkansas has a special tax for tattoos and piercings, while Maine has its own unique penny-and-a-half tax for every pound of blueberries sold. (Who passed that, Senator Cranberry?)
For crying out loud even unemployment payments are taxed! Morons (ok, that is a bit harsh, how about “misguided people?”) across the country have voted for taxes to build stadiums so that billionaire sports team owners and millionaire athletes can continue to rake in the dough while the average citizen foots the bill. Some of these taxes are slyly called “sin” taxes, and are levied on alcohol and cigarettes, which, of course, hurts poorer people disproportionately.
Today’s money hungry politicians even want to tax the internet. In many states, they already tax internet sales, but now they also want to tax usage as well. Why not, they probably figure? There are already taxes on cable television.
Raise the gas tax and solve the energy crisis! (Or just ruin all non-rich people.) Keep out imports with higher tariffs. Legalize pot just so we can tax it! I have to go now, so I can buy my lottery tickets. I support our schools, you know…
Question for students (and subscribers): Are there any taxes that you do not think should exist? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Adams, Charles. For Good and Evil: The Impact Of Taxes On The Course Of Civilization, 2Nd Edition. Madison Books, 2001.