Top 12 weirdest tax rules around the world

Countries across the globe have justified deductions, extra percentages, and wacky ways of coming up with tax revenue. Here's a countdown of the 12 strangest tax laws around the world.

3. Russia: beard tax


Peter the Great, born 1672, was one of the most famous czars of Russia for many reasons. He had a penchant for torture, murder, and power, even exiling his own half-sister and killing one of his sons to prevent any sort of family coup. He also is credited for modernizing Russia—and that’s where the beard tax comes in.

Though today we associate beards more with hipsters and Red Sox fans than courtiers, in the 1700s beards were pretty typical fare for most of the population in chilly Russia. However, when Peter the Great toured Western Europe, he found many modern European courts were filled with clean-shaven men. So how to bring this barber culture to his barbarian population? Tax the beards. In order to have a beard, one had to carry around a token showing they had paid their beard tax. Though the grizzlier men may have taken issue with the law, Peter the Great prevailed: he ruled Russia for 43 years.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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