6 of the world’s weirdest taxes

Flavored vodka and toy-less cereal are just a couple of items singled out for special levies

Topics: GlobalPost, Taxes, smartphones, France, England, Barack Obama, Jack Daniels, ,

6 of the world's weirdest taxes
This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

Global Post As the old adage goes, there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes.

We at GlobalPost live by a third certainty: The world is a weird and wondrous place. However, we didn’t realize until recently how much the promises of weirdness and taxes overlap.

From extra charges on flavored vodka in the US to beards in Russia, here are the top six wackiest taxes we’ve found around the world:

1. Tax on smartphones and laptops in France

French President Francois Hollande is considering a tax on smartphones, laptops and tablets to finance the country’s celebrated exception culturelle, or “cultural exception,” a precious French principle enshrined in law.

The exception essentially requires that anything considered to be of cultural value to French society must be protected from erratic market forces and the pernicious spread of non-French cultural items — namely, American and other English-language influences.

2. Tax on flavored vodka in the United States

Americans, President Barack Obama wants to put a levy on your Stoli Raz.

According to ABC News, distilled spirits currently get a (somewhat arbitrary?) tax break if they include flavors. But if Obama’s budget proposal goes through, it will mark the end of the gravy train for fruity libations.

In the US, distilled spirits are taxed at $13.50 per “proof-gallon,” the equivalent of a gallon of 100-proof liquor. But if distillers add flavorings, they can roll back some of that tax: specifically, up to 2.5 percent of the alcohol in those flavoring mixtures is exempt from the spirits tax.

While this rollback may not sound like much, the US Treasury says the existing tax break gives an unfair advantage to flavored liquors, particularly foreign products whose flavor quotients aren’t as restricted as in the US.

This tax would be great for Jack Daniels — but not awesome for lovers of Absolut Ruby Red.

3. Tax on beards in Russia

This is an oldie but a goodie, in our books at least.

The Russian beard tax is a relic from the age of Peter the Great. In the late 1600s, clean-cut Pete set out to modernize Russia by getting everyone to shave their facial hair — we hope that there was a Movember exception?

But we digress.

Anyone who wanted to keep a beard was taxed by having to buy a token, which bore the phrase, “The beard is a superfluous burden.”

You Might Also Like

Thankfully, this tax is no longer written law, but it merits a mention for its enduring absurdity — especially from a nation that has a climate comparable to the inside of a Good Humor truck.

4. Tax on cow flatulence in the EU

Environmentalists are trying to save the planet, one gassy cow at a time.

A key producer of methane, cow flatulence is a leading cause of global warming —accounting for approximately 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gasses. Cows’ slow digestion, combined with their gas-producing diet of greens, causes excessive methane build-up around the globe. The issue is compounded by slaughterhouses, which store thousands of cows in one location, creating large clouds of methane.

As a result, Ireland, Denmark and other EU nations have started taxing cattle “byproducts” at varying rates. In Ireland, the tax is set to be $18 per cow, while Danish farmers will have to pay at a rate $110 per head.

5. Tax on beer in Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swore, under the shadow of significant belt-tightening in April, to double the country’s tax on beer, from about 60 cents to $1.20 a bottle.

Pre-tax, the average price of beer in Israel was already pretty steep — ranging from a bar price of about $5 for a 12-ounce bottle of the most common local lagers, Goldstar and Maccabee, to about $8 for a fine microbrew or imported specialty.

The new tax proposal has, unsurprisingly, been panned by barkeeps and beer drinkers alike.

6. Tax on toy-less cereal in Canada

This one gets an honorable mention, though technically it is a tax exemption rather than a straight-up tax.

Yes, apparently in Canada, makers of children’s breakfast cereal are granted tax-exempt status if their cereals contain free toys.

Sounds cool, right? Here’s the kicker — this exemption is limited to toys that are not “beer, liquor, or wine.” So don’t expect a nip of Crown Royal in your Lucky Charms.

Normal, un-fun cereal, as well as the hypothetical cereal packed with alcoholic “toys”(Cap’n Krunk?), get taxed normally in Canada.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>