Unusual Taxes

It’s not just this Government that is always looking for new things to tax.

Throughout history, the Taxman has sought new ways to get money…and the diligent tax planner has sought ways to avoid them.

Here’s a look at some of the more unusual taxes we’ve had…

Soap: As far back as the 13th century soap makers paid tax on their produce and it was bringing in £1 million a year to the treasury by the time the tax was repealed in 1835, leaving the taxman poorer but the nation smelling sweeter.

Fireplaces: in 1660, when Charles II needed an extra £1.2 million a year to get by and it was decided that since most rooms had a fireplace and the more rooms you had the richer you were that a tax on fireplaces would be a good wheeze.

So people began to brick them up and the so called “Hearth Tax” only lasted until 1689!

Windows: A similar logic was tried in 1696.  The more windows you had the richer you were and again the same tax saving device was used.

Even today you will see buildings from this period with bricked up windows.

The tax was finally repealed in 1851.

Playing cards:  These had been taxed since the 16th century and you may be surprised that the tax was only removed in 1960.

Most packs of cards today have a very ornate design for the Ace of Spades, a replacement for the Government stamped “Duty Ace” which every pack had to have before the removal of the tax.

Wallpaper:  In 1712 a tax was levied on all “painted, stained or printed” wallpaper and so crafty craftsman got round this by hanging plain paper and then printing or stencilling the paper after it was hung.

And so a tax was imposed and the home improvement show was born at the same time.

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