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The Craziest “Sin” Taxes Across the World

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Government spending is out of control worldwide, resulting in a multitude of ridiculous taxes as a means of adding revenue to the books as government spending and deficits rise. The result? Quite an assortment of positively ludicrous taxes. Of particular interest to governments worldwide are so called “sin” taxes. Surprisingly, “sin” taxes have been around for hundreds of years, with the intention of charging people for their bad behavior, though they have had very little success in modifying it. Not surprisingly, as deficits rise, the definition of “sin” seems to be expanding well beyond the traditional vices of smoking, drinking, and gambling.

Some of the craziest “sin” taxes from across the world include:

  • “Fart tax”
    In New Zealand, Ireland, and Denmark, in compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, taxes have been proposed targeting methane released by farm animals (READ: cow farts) as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Though abandoned so far due to the absurdity of the proffered tax, it may soon become the norm as a U.N. study believes flatulent bovines cause 18 percent of the gas emissions that contribute to global warming. That stinks.
  • Weird baby name tax
    Until recently, the Swedish government decided acceptable names for children, requiring government approval for any “weird” names. According to the Swedish tax authority, “First names shall not be approved if they can cause offense or can be supposed to cause discomfort for the one using it, or names which for some obvious reason are not suitable as a first name.” As of 2007, Swedish rules relaxed somewhat, allowing names such as “Elvis” and “Lego”. While not an official tax, Sweden is the only nation whose tax officials have power over what parent’s choose to name their children. Sorry Gwyneth – no “Apples” allowed.
  • Forced cigarette smoking and taxes
    The Hubei province in China is the only nation to require its citizens to buy and smoke tobacco, a taxed item, to increase revenue. In order to stimulate the economy, local government officials, teachers, and villages were ordered to purchase hundreds of thousands of packs of cigarettes. In other news, government officials watch healthcare costs go up in smoke. Stay tuned…

Absurd taxes in the United States
As our online MBA degree programs teach us, residents in the United States suffer a number of ridiculous “sin” taxes as well. These include:

  • Tanning tax
    Under new healthcare legislation, there is a 10% tax on tanning in salons across the US. Tanners are getting burned.
  • Card tax
    Any person purchasing a deck of playing cards containing “no more than 54 cards” in Alabama must pay a “card tax” of 10 cents. Are they one card short of a full deck?
  • Candy tax
    In Illinois, any food classified as candy suffers a sales tax. This includes items not containing flour and not requiring refrigeration. According to Illinois’ definition, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and yogurt covered raisins are candy, but Milky Ways and chocolate covered pretzels are not. Only in America does nougat beat out a raisin as health food.
  • “Crack tax”
    Tennessee’s “crack tax” is based on North Carolina’s drug tax, wherein any illegal substance purchased, including cocaine, marijuana, and moonshine, is subject to tax within 48 hours of purchase. Drug dealers or buyers are expected to pay anonymously at the state revenue office and receive a stamp to prove payment. The states can seek money owed from any individual without the stamps. Payment requires no identification, and it is illegal for government employees to tattle on taxpayers. 22 other states have similar laws.
  • Nudity tax
    In Utah, any business where nude or partially nude individuals perform any service owe a 10 percent sales and use tax. Utah residents can’t “bare” anymore.

It turns out there is, in fact, something more certain than death and taxes: the absurdity of a government in debt.

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