Bellerbys Economics - Mr Stephenson

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fiscal Policy - Weird Taxes

Welcome to my new groups - I know we're going to have a good time together in Summer Term 2!!

We' ve started with government policy options and fiscal policy in particular. As Oliver Wendell Holmes put it, "Taxes are the price we pay for civilisation."

But not all taxes have been equitable, easy to collect or transparent, as Adam Smith would have liked. In Alabama, for example, you have to pay a tax on a pack of playing cards provided it contains 'not more than 54 cards' - so make sure you always buy a pack with an extra joker in it.

In the UK, we have to pay what is - in effect - a tax on watching television. It's called the TV licence and it's not cheap either, being around £120 a year.

But there have been even stranger taxes in the past. In the UK, in the 18th century, there was a tax on windows. In France, there was a candle tax. Peter the Great in Russia taxed souls (actually an early form of poll tax) and beards (!) and the Roman emperor, Nero taxed urine (I'm not quite sure how they measured that!)

For a very comprehensive round-up of the arguments surrounding taxation, you should visit Wikipedia here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax

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