back to top
DIY

21 Fascinating Facts About Taxes To Read While You Put Off Doing Your Taxes

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

Posted on

1. Breaking Bad was going to be set in Riverside, California, but the tax breaks were better in New Mexico, so it took place in Albuquerque instead.

AMC / Via giphy.com

Show creator Vince Gilligan was all but married to the idea of a Southern California-set show when Sony came to him and asked how he felt about filming in New Mexico. "They said New Mexico has a tax rebate for film and television production, and it's a pretty substantial one," Gilligan told Slant in 2010. "It's a tax rebate of 25% of the money that we spend within the state returned to us by New Mexico. We wanted our limited production budget to go that much farther." The rest is TV history.

Advertisement

3. New York charges a tax for altering bagels, aka slicing or putting toppings on them.

FOX / Via giphy.com

Messing around with the best bagels in the world will cost you. A basic bagel doesn't get taxed, but if you ask your favorite bagel shop to "prepare your bagel for consumption" by slicing it or adding cream cheese, it'll cost you an extra eight cents. That'll teach you to make changes to perfection.

4. If you get your coffee to go in Colorado, expect to pay a tax for a lid.

Warner Bros. / Via giphy.com

Rocky Mountain state legislators consider lids nonessential packaging, so you can thank them the next time you're taxed 2.9% to not have piping hot liquid splash on you.

5. Texas’ “pole tax” on strip clubs actually helps fund sexual assault prevention, intervention, and research.

Bravo / Via realitytvgifs.tumblr.com

The Lone Star State introduced its $5-per-patron tax for establishments that host live nude shows and provide alcohol in 2007. The first $25 million collected from the tax goes toward programs that help sexual assault victim, and the rest supports health care coverage for low-income Texans. Even though it isn't technically called the pole tax, it clearly targets strip shows, peep shows, and nude dancing, so the nickname stuck.

6. In Hawaii, you can get a tax deduction for owning an "exceptional" tree.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Via pinterest.com

Hawaii passed the Exceptional Tree Act in 1975, which, among other things, allows a tax deduction of up to $3,000 per tree for expenditures paid for maintaining it. Ones that have been recognized as truly exceptional include a baobab, a banyan, and a monkeypod tree.

Advertisement

8. About 7 million children "disappeared" after a new 1985 tax law.

Comedy Central / Via giphy.com

It's not as bad as it seems! What happened was that taxpayers didn't used to have to submit a Social Security Number for their dependents, so many claimed fake children in order to get a tax deduction. When a new law was passed requiring Social Security Numbers, some 7 million children and other family members magically vanished.

9. The US tax code is longer than all of Shakespeare's works and War and Peace combined.

Disney / Via giphy.com

Here's a real mindfuck: The tax code contains about 3.8 million words, while all of Shakespeare's works have about 900,000 words and War and Peace has fewer than 600,000.

10. Which explains why the former IRS commissioner used a tax preparer because he found the tax code "too complex."

FOX / Via giphy.com

If you ever feel overwhelmed while doing taxes for one measly W2, think about former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman. In 2010, he appeared on C-SPAN's Newsmakers, where he said he'd been using a tax preparer for years. "I find it convenient. I find the tax code complex so I use a preparer," he said.

12. A former IRS commissioner, Joseph Nunan, once served five years in prison for tax evasion .

ABC / Via giphy.com

Nunan made a bet that Harry Truman would win the 1948 election, and his correct prediction earned him a full $1,800! However, he rather unfortunately forgot to declare his winnings to the IRS, the very administration he headed from 1944-1947, and got busted for doing so.

Advertisement

13. There was no federal income tax in the US until the Civil War.

Comedy Central / Via giphy.com

President Abraham Lincoln instituted the first one during the height of the Civil War in 1862 to pay war expenses; the IRS also traces its roots back to this time. The income tax law was repealed 10 years later, though, and wasn't officially added to the Constitution until 1913.

14. In 1696, England began taxing citizens based on the number of windows on their house as an indirect way of targeting the wealthy.

20th Century Fox / Via giphy.com

The law had some major drawbacks: It did nothing to alleviate the burden of the urban poor, and it caused some major health problems, as people would put no windows on their houses and then suffer from the lack of ventilation and natural light. The tax was eventually repealed in 1851.

15. Newspapers are printed on such large sheets of paper because of a British "knowledge tax" that passed in 1712.

Warner Bros. Pictures / Via giphy.com

Literally, British tax laws have shaped so much of the world. This law dictated that newspapers would be charged by the number of pages they printed, so publishers responded by printing their editions on big-ass pages. Eventually, the broadsheet style became the norm, and hasn't changed much since.

16. Peter the Great instituted a beard tax in Russia in 1698 in an attempt to modernize the country.

Walt Disney Pictures / Via giphy.com

After touring westernized countries like England and France in 1697, Peter the Great was stunned to see that no one over there had beards — so naturally, he returned home and "after passing among his [friends] and embracing them… he began shaving off their beards” with his own hands in a misguided attempt to modernize Russia. The beard tax stayed in place until 1772.

17. Witches in Romania were exempt from paying taxes until 2011.

Walt Disney Pictures / Via giphy.com

The law, which imposed an income tax on previously-exempt witches, astrologers, and fortune tellers, was passed in 2011 during an economic downturn. Understandably, Romania's witches did not take the new taxes gently — they responded by protesting and casting spells on the government.

18. Before Apollo 13's close call with disaster, astronaut Jack Swigert was more worried about filing his taxes on time.

Columbia Records / Via giphy.com

Swigert only joined the Apollo 13 mission three days before it launched on April 11, 1970, and didn't file for a tax extension because, you know, he had other things on his mind, I guess. During the space flight, flight control asked all of the astronauts if they'd filed their taxes before they left Earth, and when Swigert said he hadn't, everyone burst out laughing. "It ain't too funny; things kind of happened real fast down there, and I do need an extension," Swigert said. A NASA employee filed the extension on Swigert's behalf before the crew's dramatic return to Earth.

19. Madison Square Garden has been exempt from property taxes since 1982, which means New York City is missing out on $50 million a year.

FOX / Via giphy.com

What started as a temporary abatement has now lasted 35 years, thanks to a misunderstanding when it was negotiated during Mayor Ed Koch's administration. That's...a lot of money.

21. Willie Nelson owed $15 million in back taxes in 1990, which the government let him repay through sales of a special new album called “Who’ll Buy My Memories? (The I.R.S. Tapes)”.

Universal Pictures / Via giphy.com

Amazingly, the IRS said he could repay his debt by selling 4 million copies of his album. The plan worked — Nelson finally paid back all of his taxes in 1993.

Promoted

Every. Tasty. Video. EVER. The new Tasty app is here!

Dismiss