Tax Oddities Museum
|January 9, 2007||Posted by Staff under Banneker, Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Museum of Tax Oddities
The Hall of Ancient Relics
Sometimes you refrain from doing something even though it would have been good for you. But how’s this for a double bind — the government of Sparta declared that everyone, including slaves and cattle, had to fast for one day and then pay a tax of 100% of the food that they WOULD HAVE consumed.
Next time you plan to “go out of your way” to avoid a tax, think of the Chou Dynasty in Ancient China. Although the dynasty was generally a forward-thinking, reformist government, it levied a produce tax on farmers depending on their distance from the capital. Farmers close in paid just 5% of their produce, while those furthest away could get hit with a 25% tax. As strange as it seems, this idea does reappear from time to time — one of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s failed policies would have shifted property tax burdens off the London area and onto more distant regions.
Here’s a beautiful Roman structure, but it’s just to set the scene.
The problem is this: What do you do if you’re a merchant in Rome and you get fed up with all the taxes on your commerce? Simple — stop keeping records. During the third century, civilization fell backward as businesspeople actually stopped keeping paper records in a fairly successful effort to evade taxation.
Again and again, politicians fail to realize that when citizens are hit with a tax, they do not simply take it on the chin and continue their behavior unchanged. People react to taxes, often to the detriment of society.
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