Unusual Taxes – Part 2

As a follow up to my earlier blog, here are some more unusual taxes from the past and more tax planning, which shows that no matter how crafty the Taxman, those interested in saving tax can be just as crafty….

Thick as a brick: You need a lot of bricks to make a house and bricks aren’t easy to hide, so in the 18th century the Government began taxing brick manufacturers at a rate of five shillings per thousand bricks.

So how do you save tax here?

Easy, brick manufacturers began making bigger bricks so less were needed!

The Taxman soon cottoned on and introduced higher taxes for bigger bricks.

Mad as a hatter? In 1784, the Government introduced a tax on hats, forcing manufacturers to buy a licence and put a duty ‘stamp’ inside each hat.

Clever tax planning saw milliners describing their wares as anything other than a ‘hat’, forcing the Government to extend the law to cover anything that was “headgear”.

Let there be light! Well, if you wanted light between 1709 and 1831 you were paying tax on any candles you used!

So this was one of the few times when you could save tax by sitting in the dark doing nothing.

When the tax was finally repealed, candle makers celebrated by producing highly decorative candles, something still with us today.

Taxing times: You might think it impossible to tax time itself but the Government did its best in 1797 when it introduced a tax on watches.

It will come as no surprise to the reader that Members of Parliament were exempt from the tax! Luckily for those of us constantly checking to see how long to go before the pub opens, the tax proved difficult to enforce and was repealed after only nine months.

Room with a view: Bringing things up to date, the government is currently reviewing council tax records and has decided that up to 80,000 houses in the country have such a nice view that the value of the house is increased significantly.

This means you might be paying more tax if you can see the sea or a meadow full of flowers from your window! Now, I wonder if you could claim a tax rebate if you were short-sighted…..

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