April 23, 2024
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April 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

No one likes doing their taxes. Yet according to recent reports, Americans spend 7.6 billion hours doing them every year. Go figure.

But as it turns out, taxes aren’t that scary. There are always things you can deduct, such as any money you spent buying tax-related items. So, for example, if you bought new shoes, you can deduct the cost of your shoebox, because you keep receipts in it. Starting with the receipt for the shoebox.

But on the other hand, we have to pay taxes on everything. We even have to pay income taxes on unemployment. Let’s say you collected unemployment insurance, which means that every two weeks, the government sent you a paycheck for not working. Or rather, for looking for a job, because that’s a full-time job. In fact, you don’t even have time to get a job, because then when are you going to look for a job? On the weekends? But either way, at the end of the year, the government wants you to figure out if you should send some of that money back to them for not working.

So why didn’t they keep that to begin with?

So to cheer you up, here are a bunch of fun facts about taxes. Our hope is that by calling them “fun facts,” you’ll forget that they’re about taxes:

• If you live in New Mexico and are over 100 years old, you don’t have to pay taxes anymore. You’re paid up. But this is only if no one is claiming you as a dependent, and only for income tax. So in other words, it’s only if you’re still working. Or collecting unemployment.

• In California, you have to pay a 33 percent tax for any fruit bought from a vending machine. That’s a lot of money to pay for a banana that has fallen six feet and that you have to scrape off the bottom of the machine.

• In New York, if you buy a bagel, it’s a lot cheaper to slice it at home. If you have it sliced in the store, you have to pay a service tax, because your bagel is being sliced by a professional who is less likely to cut himself.

• In the Middle Ages, many European governments put a tax on soap, which explains a lot about the Middle Ages. Especially the wars. In fact, England didn’t repeal this tax until 1835, which might have been the real reason the colonists broke away. Sure, “No taxation without representation,” but no one wanted to travel several months on a boat to represent us in a crowded room of people who were trying to save on the soap tax.

• In 1696, England implemented a window tax, taxing houses based on how many windows they had. Those who lived in glass houses were furious. To combat this, people started bricking up their windows, at least from the outside, so no one would know they had windows.

• So in the 1700s, England placed a tax on bricks. To combat this, builders started using bigger ones so they wouldn’t have to use as many.

• Eventually, having all those people living in windowless, dark houses became a health problem (the soap thing didn’t help).

• In 1705, Russian Emperor Peter the Great, who was so named by people who wanted to get in good with the emperor, placed a tax on beards, in order to discourage people from growing them, or, at the very least, more than one per person. The fact that Peter himself couldn’t grow a beard had nothing to do with it. Though he was sick of people coming to the door and asking if his father was home.

• From 1784–1811, England had a tax on hats. The avoid the tax, hat makers stopped calling their creations “hats.” People had to say things like, “He’s a man of many bonnets,” for tax reasons.

• Also, in 1795, England put a tax on the aromatic powders that men and women put on their wigs to combat the lack of soap. This led to a dramatic decline in the popularity of wigs, and more people started wearing, um, headwear.

• Income taxes in the US were first introduced in 1861 to fund the Civil War, because war is expensive, especially when the same government is funding both sides. Before that, people were just taxed on land and property and gas and soda bottles and unemployment and how many people they owned.

• In 1927, Mussolini imposed, quote, “a tax on goats.” That’s all I know. I’m not sure if it was for people owning goats or for the goats themselves. But a lot of goats went to prison for this.

Once again, all of these are actual facts. The bagel thing is right in the constitution.

My point is that we think we have it bad, what with the inconvenient tax time, but is there really a convenient tax time? At least we don’t have to sit down and figure out how many hats and beards we own, and how many of them count as two. Or pay a tax on soap around Pesach time. Or on goats.

By Mordechai Schmutter

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, The Jewish Press and Aish.com, among others. He also has four books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

 

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