Taxes have been around for thousands of years. Every known society has taxed its people. Read on for a few modern and historical tax facts.
HISTORICAL TAX FACTS
- The word tax comes from the Latin word taxo, which means “I estimate.”
- In ancient Rome, Emperor Vespasian put a tax on urine, a hot commodity. It was used as a source of ammonia to clean togas, and somehow was used in tanning.
- In 1705, Peter the Great put a tax on beards to encourage men to be clean-shaven. He was trying to keep up with the Western European look.
- King Henry I made it possible for knights to opt out of fighting if they paid a tax, called the “scutage.”
- Oliver Cromwell put a tax on his opposing political party – the Royalists, taking 1/10 of their property.
- In the 16th century, the English government significantly raised taxes on playing cards and dice. Forgery dice and playing cards began to appear to avoid paying taxes on the real deal.
- From 1660 to 1689, England created a tax for fireplaces. People would hide their fireplaces with bricks to avoid paying taxes.
- From 1696 to 1851, England put a tax on windows. You had to pay taxes for how many windows you had in your home. Unfortunately this led to a lot of health problems, and the tax was eventually repealed.
- The popularity of powdered wigs declined partially to a 1795 tax that England put on the scented powders people used for their wigs.
- Have you heard of Lady Godiva? She made her famous nude ride as a tax protest.
- The Rosetta stone is actually a tax document.
- Even the earliest known civilization, the Sumerians (ancient Mesopotamians), recorded their taxes on clay cones.
- Contrary to popular belief, the US Civil War was more about taxation than it was about slavery.
- WWII created the norm of taxes being withheld from paychecks. Before, Americans would save their money to pay a lump sum at the end of the year. However, the war made it essential for the government to have a more steady stream of money.
MODERN TAX FACTS
- Fewer than 1% of tax returns are audited, however, once your income hits $10 million, that percentage jumps to 10%.
- In New Mexico, people over 100 are tax-exempt. They cannot be claimed as someone’s dependant though.
- An estimated 90% of households who use housekeepers and babysitters cheat on their taxes.
- 90% of taxes are filed electronically.
- 57% of taxes are filed by a paid preparer.