Who says that taxation isn’t rib-ticklingly, gut-bustingly hilarious? Well, OK, most people. But actually, there are a few fascinating facts about tax. Here are some to lighten your mood while filling in your return.
- In ancient Egypt, tax collectors were known as ‘scribes’. During one period the scribes imposed a tax on cooking oil and they audited households to make sure the appropriate amounts of cooking oil were consumed and wives were not just using cheap alternatives.
- Ancient Athenians imposed a poll tax on foreigners – people whose parents were not both Athenians – of one drachma* for men and a half drachma for women. (*5 drachma = 1p)
- During the time of Julius Caesar a 1% sales tax was imposed on all Romans. During the time of Caesar Augustus the sales tax was 4% for slaves and 1% for everything else
- In 60AD Queen Boedicea led a revolt against the Roman occupation primarily because of corrupt tax collectors. Her troops allegedly killed all Roman soldiers within 100 miles.
- They say that Lady Godiva’s husband Leofric, Earl of Mercia, only agreed to reduce the high taxes he levied on the residents of Coventry when her Ladyship rode naked through the streets of the town.
- 14th century taxes were progressive. The 1377 Poll tax noted that the tax on the Duke of Lancaster was 520 times the tax on peasants. Under the earliest taxing schemes, income tax was imposed on the wealthy, office holders, and the clergy. The poor paid little or no tax. Are you taking note Mr Cameron?!
- Contacting your tax office for advice every now and then won’t mean that they suddenly ‘notice’ you, put you on a register to watch and run regular inspections on you. In fact it’s really only the people who don’t contact HMRC, who don’t respond to letters and calls and who don’t pay their tax on time who get noticed and pursued by the inspectors.
- VAT was designed by French tax expert Maurice Lauré in the postwar years and first levied in the UK on April Fools’ Day 1973,
- Hard though it is to believe, tax inspectors are actually not from the planet Zob. They do not have webbed feet and do not enjoy eating tarmac. However…
- …VAT inspectors are.
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