11 Fun Tax Facts You Probably Never Knew
Taxes: Love 'em or hate 'em, you still gotta pay 'em.
In fact, taxes are a tale as old as time. Well, almost. The earliest tax, according to the book "A World History of Tax Rebellions," was on the corvee (by definition, a day's unpaid labor owed by a vassal to his feudal lord) in 594 B.C. China. Peasants paid overlords for the land they farmed in labor if they couldn't pay the land tax in money.
That's just one fun fact. Check out this list of tax trivia that's weird, wacky, and sometimes just plain wrong.
1. There was no re-using cooking oil in Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt's early taxation system isn't exactly known for being fair, and their cooking oil tax was a perfect example. Not only was cooking oil taxed, but citizens weren't allowed to reuse it. They had to continually buy new oil, thus constantly forking over the associated tax. This was no joke: Scribes (Ancient Egypt's version of tax collectors) would sweep homes in search of recycled cooking oil, forcing people to pony up and buy new.
2. People in the Middle Ages really stunk up the joint
European governments taxed soap during the Middle Ages, which meant that you probably only bought a bar if you had some extra dough. As for the rest of the folks, well, they weren't making any new friends smelling like King John's sewage pot. The tax lasted for quite a while, too: Britain didn't repeal its soap tax until 1835.
3. Watching TV in the U.K. ain't cheap, you guys
We all need a license to drive, but a license to watch television? That's the case in the United Kingdom, where each household is taxed on its TVs — £145.50 a year — the funds from which primarily support the television, radio, and online services of the BBC. Total income from TV license fees in 2015–16 was £3.74 billion.
4. The good deed that lingered too long
To rebuild the town after a devastating flood in 1936, Johnstown, Pennsylvania slapped a tax on alcohol to raise money for the recovery efforts. The town met its fundraising goal in 1942, but the tax remained. Today it brings in around $200 million annually.
5. Eating a bagel in New York could cut you two ways
New York City has a special tax on food and prepared foods. If you have your bagel sliced in the store, you'll pay both taxes. Leave it uncut, you'll only pay the food tax since nobody is "preparing" it for you.
6. Pennsylvania has put a price on fun
Want to go to the movies? Or bowling? Or to a concert? Add 5 percent to your bill thanks to Pennsylvania's amusement tax, which applies to any kind of entertainment.
7. Certain pumpkins get a pass in Iowa, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey
Pumpkins are exempt from sales tax in these states if they'll be eaten and not carved. Carving pumpkins and cooking pumpkins are separated so customers aren't confused.
8. Leaving out this one ingredient drives candy prices way up in Chicago
It's simple. If the candy is made with flour — like licorice (who knew?) and KitKat bars — it receives a 1 percent tax. Leave the flour out for pure sugary goodness, and the tax climbs to 6.25 percent.
9. You have to lose both limbs to qualify for this tax credit in Oregon
That's right: Double amputees receive a $50 tax credit in the Beaver State. You might think that single amputees would receive half that credit, but no such luck.
10. If you live to age 100, you're home free in New Mexico
They say the only two things that are certain in life are death and taxes. Except in New Mexico. If you can make it to age 100, you become tax-exempt (but only if you're no one's dependent).
11. You can count your pet as a moving expense
You're allowed to write off moving expenses if you're relocating to begin a new job. You can also deduct the cost of taking your pet with you as the IRS treats your furbaby as personal property. How rude! But also, thank you.
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