Weird Taxes #1— Hair

Let’s see how many of these I can discover!

One of the oddest taxes, I’m sure you’ll agree, was established by Peter the Great in 1705. In his attempt to modernize Russia, Peter enacted a progressive tax for facial hair. The more hair one had, the higher the tax. AND, like a true democrat, commoners paid less than the upper class. Commoners could sport their goatees and muttonchops for a few kopecks. The upper class had to spend at least 100 rubies (a huge sum) to wear their facial hair. Guess it’s all relative; I’m sure that for the commoners those few kopecks seemed like large sums as well.

Still, even in 1705 taxes were used for the same purpose as today: to encourage or discourage certain behaviors. For the Emperor, it was in the belief that facial hair was not fashion forward, and that could somehow stop his country’s efforts to modernize. And although we aren’t taxed on our grooming habits, some days it seems like we are taxed on everything else!

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