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11 Weirdest Taxes Other Countries Have to Pay

Taxes are no fun – or are they? Some are certainly entertaining when you consider how offbeat they are. For example, there are plenty of strange U.S. taxes — ranging from a tattoo tax in Arkansas to a blueberry tax in Maine.
But bizarre levies aren’t limited to America. Plenty of countries have tax laws that might seem a bit odd or even downright outrageous.

Click through to see what weird tax laws other countries have and where people pay more in taxes than Americans.

Junk Food Tax in Hungary

If you want a snack in Hungary, better reach for an apple instead of a bag of chips. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay the country’s junk food tax, which is officially called the public health product tax. The tax is on packaged snacks high in salt and sugar – as well as sodas and energy drinks – and adds about 20 cents to the price of these items, according to the Boston Globe.[1]

The tax was introduced to reduce “consumption of food products that are not useful from a public health point of view and to promote a healthy diet,” according to a study by Hungary’s National Institute for Food and Nutrition Science and World Health Organization. It seems to be working because the study found that 59 percent to 73 percent of consumers reduced their consumption of the taxed items.[2]

Nonessential Energy-Dense Food Tax in Mexico

You better watch your calories in Mexico – otherwise, you’ll end up paying a tax. In 2014, the government started levying an 8 percent tax on nonessential foods – snacks, desserts and such – with more than 275 calories per 100 grams. Mexican consumers did take notice. A study published in the PLOS Medicine journal found that purchases of chips, cakes and other high-calorie foods dropped after the tax was added. [1]

Related: These 17 Countries Pay Less in Taxes Than Americans

Fat Tax in India

Mexico and Hungary aren’t the only places that have tried to curb obesity by taxing junk food. The Indian state of Kerala imposes a “fat tax” on pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and tacos sold in branded restaurants. The aim of the 14.5 percent tax is to steer people away from fast food and make healthier choices, the BBC reported. [1]

Entertainment Tax in India

A night on the town in India could leave you double taxed if you first get hit by the fat tax on a fast food meal then have to pay the entertainment tax. Yes, you have to pay a special tax on sports events, movies, theater shows, exhibits, arcades and amusement parks.

The tax used to vary from state to state and ranged from 15 percent to 110 percent. However, the Indian government introduced a country-wide entertainment tax in 2017 that now ranges from 5 percent to 28 percent, depending on the form of entertainment, according to consulting firm PwC.[1] Still, it’s hefty enough that you might want to skip the popcorn if you go to the movies.

Tax on English-Language Schools in Bangladesh

If you want your child to attend an English-language school in Bangladesh, it will cost you extra. Not only do you have to pay tuition fees for these private schools, but also you have to pay a 15 percent value added tax (VAT) on English school fees. All other schools are exempt from this tax, which is why the Bangladesh High Court declared the VAT discriminatory and illegal. But the government continues to impose and collect the tax. [1]

Wine Equalization Tax – and 16 Beer Tax Rates — in Australia

If you want a drink in Australia but are watching your wallet, be careful about the drink you choose. That’s because taxes vary greatly depending on the type of alcohol you buy. There’s a wine equalization tax of 29 percent of the wholesale value of wine[1]. Other products are taxed based on alcohol content–so the stiffer the drink, the higher the tax rate[2]. For beer alone, there are 16 different tax rates in this tax-unfriendly country.[3][4]

Shelled Nut Tax in England

Buying nuts with shells will save you money in England. That’s because there’s a 20 percent value added tax on shelled nuts. There is an exemption, though, for peanuts – which escape the tax if they’re shelled as long as they’re not salted or roasted, according to British news publication The Telegraph. [1][2]

Tampon Tax Around the World

Shelled nuts aren’t the only thing subject to the value added tax in England. There are whole host of things that were considered luxury items when the VAT system was created in the 1970s and not exempt from the tax, according to BBC[1]. Women’s sanitary products are among the items that don’t escape the tax. However, they are taxed at a lower 5 percent rate rather than the standard 20 percent rate. [2]

There are several other countries – and several states in America — where there’s a tax on these essential items for women. [3] Australia, on the other hand, recently agreed to declassify sanitary products as nonessential items and remove its 10 percent tax on them. [4]

Robot Tax in South Korea

To make up for lost income tax on workers who are replaced by machines, South Korea introduced what has been called the world’s first tax on robots. [1] However, it’s not so much of a tax as the reduction of a tax break. The Korea Times reported the South Korean government will decrease tax deduction for companies that have invested in automation by up to two percentage points. [2]

Tax Exemption for Cereal Boxes With Free Toys in Canada

Cereal manufacturers in Canada get a tax break if they include free toys in cereal boxes, according to Canada’s Chartered Professional Accountants organization. [1] However, to qualify for the tax exemption, the toy can’t be beer, liquor or wine – which would be quite the prize if manufacturers actually included that in a box of cereal.

Tax Exemption for Artists in Ireland

Starving artists in Ireland have at least one thing going for them – tax-free income. This tax haven country exempts up to 50,000 euros of income from artistic works from income tax. That includes income from plays, paintings, sculptures, musical compositions, and books and other forms of writing. [1]

Up Next: Here the Most and Least tax-Friendly Countries

Artsanova / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Taxes are no fun — or are they? Some are certainly entertaining when you consider how offbeat they are. For example, there are plenty of strange U.S. taxes — ranging from a tattoo tax in Arkansas to a blueberry tax in Maine.

But bizarre levies aren’t limited to America. Plenty of countries have tax laws that might seem a bit odd or even downright outrageous. Here are some of the weirdest tax laws around the world that could be increasing citizens’ tax bills in other countries.

Aigars Jansons / Shutterstock.com

Junk Food Tax in Hungary

If you want a snack in Hungary, better reach for an apple instead of a bag of chips. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay the country’s junk food tax, which is officially called the public health product tax. The tax is on packaged snacks that are high in salt and sugar — as well as sodas and energy drinks — and adds about 20 cents to the price of these items, according to the Boston Globe.

The tax was introduced to reduce “consumption of food products that are not useful from a public health point of view and to promote a healthy diet,” according to a study by Hungary’s National Institute for Food and Nutrition Science and World Health Organization. It seems to be working because the study found that 59 to 73 percent of consumers reduced their consumption of the taxed items.

Click to See: 17 Ridiculous Tax Loopholes

Nonessential Energy-Dense Food Tax in Mexico

You better watch your calories in Mexico, otherwise, you’ll end up paying a tax. In 2014, the government started levying an 8 percent tax on nonessential foods — snacks, desserts and such — with more than 275 calories per 100 grams. Mexican consumers did take notice of this add-on. A study published in the PLOS Medicine journal found that purchases of chips, cakes and other high-calorie foods dropped after the tax was added.

paul prescott / Shutterstock.com

Fat Tax in India

Mexico and Hungary aren’t the only places that have tried to curb obesity by taxing junk food. The Indian state of Kerala imposes a “fat tax” on pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and tacos sold in branded restaurants. The aim of the 14.5 percent tax is to steer people away from fast food and make healthier choices, the BBC reported.

Report: These 17 Countries Pay Less in Taxes Than Americans

Regien Paassen / Shutterstock.com

Entertainment Tax in India

A night on the town in India could leave you double taxed if you first get hit by the fat tax on a fast food meal and then have to pay the entertainment tax. Yes, you have to pay a special tax on sports events, movies, theater shows, exhibits, arcades and amusement parks.

The tax used to vary from state to state and ranged from 15 percent to 110 percent. However, the Indian government introduced a country-wide entertainment tax in 2017 that now ranges from 5 to 28 percent, depending on the form of entertainment, according to consulting firm PwC. Still, it’s hefty enough that you might want to skip the popcorn if you go to the movies.

Want a Break From Taxes? 10 Jobs That Grant You These Unique Tax Deductions

Farid_Ahmed / Getty Images

Tax on English-Language Schools in Bangladesh

If you want your child to attend an English-language school in Bangladesh, it will cost you extra. Not only do you have to pay tuition fees for these private schools, but you also have to pay a 15 percent value-added tax (VAT) on English school fees. All other schools are exempt from this tax, which is why the Bangladesh High Court declared the VAT discriminatory and illegal. But the government continues to impose and collect the tax.

Wine Equalization Tax and 16 Beer Tax Rates in Australia

If you want a drink in Australia but are watching your wallet, be careful about the drink you choose. That’s because taxes vary greatly depending on the type of alcohol you buy. There’s a wine equalization tax of 29 percent of the wholesale value of wine. Other products are taxed based on alcohol content — so the stiffer the drink, the higher the tax rate. For beer alone, there are 16 different tax rates in this tax-unfriendly country.

Shelled Nut Tax in England

Buying nuts with shells will save you money in England. That’s because there’s a 20 percent value-added tax on shelled nuts. There is an exemption, though, for peanuts — which escape the tax if they’re shelled as long as they’re not salted or roasted, according to British news publication The Telegraph.

mark_vyz / Shutterstock.com

Tampon Tax Around the World

Shelled nuts aren’t the only thing subject to the value-added tax in England. There are a whole host of things that were considered luxury items when the VAT system was created in the 1970s and therefore not exempt from the tax, according to BBC. Women’s sanitary products are among the items that don’t escape the tax. However, they are taxed at a lower 5 percent rate rather than the standard 20 percent rate.

There are several other countries — and several states in America — where there’s a tax on these essential items for women. Australia, on the other hand, recently agreed to declassify sanitary products as non-essential items and remove its 10 percent tax on them.

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

Robot Tax in South Korea

To make up for lost income tax on workers who are replaced by machines, South Korea introduced what has been called the world’s first tax on robots. However, it’s not so much of a tax as the reduction of a tax break. The Korea Times reported the South Korean government will decrease tax deduction for companies that have invested in automation by up to two percentage points.

melissamn / Shutterstock.com

Tax Exemption for Cereal Boxes With Free Toys in Canada

Cereal manufacturers in Canada get a tax break if they include free toys in cereal boxes, according to Canada’s Chartered Professional Accountants organization. However, to qualify for the tax exemption, the toy can’t be beer, liquor or wine, which would be quite the prize if manufacturers actually included that in a box of cereal.

This Is No Joke: The Weirdest Money Fact About Every State

Kit Leong / Shutterstock.com

Tax Exemption for Artists in Ireland

Starving artists in Ireland have at least one thing going for them: tax-free income. This tax haven country exempts up to 50,000 euros of income from artistic works from income tax. That includes income from plays, paintings, sculptures, musical compositions, and books and other forms of writing.

Click through to find out the best and worst countries for the rich.

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