Beyond the Numbers: 40 Insightful Facts About Taxes 2

26Long Distance Call Tax

Long Distance Call Tax

In 1898, the U.S. Congress passed a tax on long-distance phone calls to pay for the Spanish-American War. The war ended 4 months later, but the tax remained in place for over 100 years. On August 1, 2006, the IRS announced it would no longer collect the tax.



27. Mercedes Sprinter was rebranded as Dodge in the US to avoid paying a "chicken tax" on light trucks. After World War 2, when cheap American chickens flooded the European market, Germany enacted a protectionist “Chicken Tax” on US Chickens. In response, the USA retaliated with its own import tariffs on Light Trucks.



28. After Oprah's famous "You get a car" episode, where she gave away 276 cars at a total cost of $7.6 million, many of the recipients sent in complaints to the show as they had all been charged $6000-$7000 "gift tax."



29. To collect taxes, King Christian IV of Denmark asked captains of ships crossing the ├śresund to estimate the value of their cargo, which was applied as the tax base without further audit. The king also claimed the right to buy the entire cargo at exactly that price if he decided.



30. Procter & Gamble argued for years that Pringles were not potato chips, but Britain's Supreme Court of Judicature ultimately determined that they were and required Procter & Gamble to pay $160 million in taxes.



31Swimming Pool Tax

Swimming Pool Tax

With only 324 households declaring ownership of a swimming pool on their tax form and fearing tax evasion, Greek authorities turned to satellite imagery for further investigation of Athens' northern suburbs. They discovered a total of 16,974 swimming pools.



32. Wooden sticks were used to record tax payments in Britain until 1826. In 1834, two cartloads of such sticks were burnt in a furnace in the London Parliament House. Besides destroying centuries of valuable data, it also caused a chimney fire that ended up burning down the whole Parliament.



33. The first piece of legislation passed by the 1st U.S. Congress was the Tariff of 1789, which levied a 50¢ per ton duty on goods imported by foreign ships. President Washington signed the act and the money was used to pay off the Revolutionary War debt.



34. In 1994, an exotic dancer named Cynthia Hess got the IRS to agree that her breast implants were a business expense and were therefore deductible from taxes as a business expense.



35. Converse shoes have "fuzzy soles" so that they can be imported as slippers, which dramatically reduces import taxes.



36Magna Carta Tax Law

Magna Carta Tax Law

Prince John who became the inspiration for the antagonist against Robin Hood raised taxes on the general population to 13% in 1207. This became a factor in the creation of the Magna Carta which limited the king's taxation power among other things.



37. When the CEO of discount supermarket chain ALDI was kidnapped, he haggled about his ransom money and claimed the sum as a tax-deductible business expense in court after his release.



38. In 1800s, England enacted laws to tax any timber that came from Europe and Canada in order to prefer timber imports from USA. Unfortunately this law did not apply to lumber that made up the ship. Canadian loggers began building large, barely seaworthy ships that would be broken up for timber once they reached British shores.



39. Lotus cars were initially sold as car kits which the buyer has to assemble themselves. This was done to save up on purchase tax. It wasn't until the late 1960's that they set up a factory and started manufacturing the whole car and selling them.



40. Thanks to a Swedish tax law regarding costumes, ABBA's stage clothes were designed outlandishly on purpose. As long as they were impractical for everyday wear, the group's outfits were tax-deductible.