Tax Trivia to Ease the Pain

Although we all know that ‘tax day’ is April 15th, a holiday in Washington DC pushed back the due date until today.  Here are some fun facts from to help ease the pain:

  • In 1705, Russian emperor Peter the Great taxed beards in the hopes that more men would adopt a clean shaven look.
  • Playing cards and dice were taxed in England going back to 1710 and rose to as much as $25 per deck (in today’s dollars).  The tax ended in 1960.
  • Iowa, Pennsylvania and New Jersey exempt pumpkins from state tax as long as they will be eaten and not carved.
  • Hot air balloon rides are tax-free in Kansas since they are a form of transportation, but tethered balloon rides are considered a carnival ride and are subject to sales tax.
  • Ty Warner, creator of the popular toy, Beanie Babies, pled guilty to tax evasion of $25 million.  Warner avoided prison, but had to serve two years’ probation, perform 500 hours of community service, pay $27 million in back-taxes and interest and was fined $53 million.
  • In Germany, bribes are deductible.  Apparently, not many people try for this deduction since it requires filers to disclose their name along with the official that they bribed.

I’ve heard Warren Buffet say that his tax return used to be the size of a post card.  That may be, but it seems a little surprising since the 1914 return for Franklin D. Roosevelt, found here, was nine pages.

All politicians seem to agree that the tax code is too complicated, but it never seems to get any easier.  Maybe next year…