The world's weirdest taxes

From hot air balloons to beards: how governments make you pay more

Collection:    Brand X Pictures (RF)Item number:    78393409Title:    Hot air balloonsLicense type:    Royalty-freeRelea

As we approach the election on June 8, the parties are debating how we should be taxed. Should the rich pay more? Or the elderly in care homes? Should we all pay more to fund social care?

These are serious questions, and on the whole, tax isn't a laughing matter.

But throughout history, governments have come up with many different ways of extracting cash from people, and some of them are very creative indeed.

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With the tax year recently over, staff at accountancy firm Howlader & Co have had a little spare time on their hands and have compiled a list of the world's weirdest taxes.

So as you check over your accounts this month, remember, things could be quite a lot worse.

The US
Americans have, in their time, faced taxes on soap, blueberries and napkins, along with hot air balloons and tattoos. Confederate veterans have faced a tax of their own, as have bachelors. They have, though, been able to claim various items as tax deductions, including kids' music lessons, pregnancy tests - and killing whales.

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The UK
It's well-known that the UK once had a tax on the number of windows in a house, designed as a simple way of taxing the rich. But did you know that we Brits have also been taxed on wig powder, fireplaces and printed wallpaper, as well as candles and hats?

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France has taxed salt, Italy has taxed porn - and Denmark has even taxed cow farts as part of a greenhouse gas levy. However, there's a silver lining for some, as you can make deductions against tax for studying magic in the Netherlands, while in Germany you can claim back the cost of bribes.

The rest of the world
In Russia, men were once taxed for having beards; in India, it's fat people and women who showed their breasts. In China's Hubei province, you can be taxed more for not smoking - yes- that's not smoking; while Canada has taxed cereal that doesn't come with a plastic toy. Meanwhile, in Australia, sex workers can claim back the cost of vibrators.

Ten terrible tax excuses

Ten terrible tax excuses