Taxes Around the World
Not every person in the world has the same relationship with the taxman as Americans do. Let’s look at taxing throughout the globe, including what people pay and some of the more bizarre taxes around the world.
The best way to compare countries based on taxes is using the highest personal income tax rate paid by individuals. So this excludes countries that do not have personal income taxes. Let’s see how select countries compare:
Country: Maximum individual income tax rate (1, 2)
New Zealand: 33%
South Africa: 40%
South Korea: 38%
United States: 39.6%
Tax Haven Heaven
Here are the top nine tax havens for people who want to store large sums of cash with few questions asked. It might sound shady and that’s because a lot of times … it is. These locations offer corporate secrecy and, in a lot of cases, income tax evasion:
1. Delaware, U.S.
4. Cayman Islands
5. London, U.K.
Top 10 Weirdest Taxes
In the mix of some really strange laws out there are some equally weird tax penalties and breaks. Here are the world’s top 10 weirdest taxes.(3)
10. Tethered hot air balloon tax, U.S.
Have a hot air balloon? Sure you do, who doesn’t? Well, taking that puppy for a ride every now and again will keep you from having to pay taxes on it. Untethered hot air balloons qualify for a tax break in some states. But be careful: If it goes unused over the course of a year, you’ll be paying property taxes on it.
9. South Africa’s World Cup tax bubble
Your country wants to bid on hosting the FIFA World Cup? Make sure the leaders know that they must agree to exempt the event and all proceeds from all national and local taxes in order to do so.
8. Switzerland’s banking tax havens
We all know about Swiss bank accounts. But did you know why they’re so popular among the well-to-do? Tax regulations. If you’re making millions of dollars, storing it all in a Swiss bank account could keep you from having to pay your country’s personal income tax on all that dough.
7. Ireland’s exempted artists
If you’re looking to quit your day job and take up writing, painting or sculpting, think about moving to Ireland. Though certain criteria must be met, artists creating and making money from original work are subject to an exemption of up to about $55,000.
6. British film tax deduction
The U.K. is pretty into keeping its culture alive. So any film created that bears the title “culturally British” will be eligible for tax deduction. But it’s not as simple as waving a British flag; in order to get the deduction, directors must submit their film to a committee that ranks it based on a point system. Films have to score at least 16 out of 31 points to be eligible for a 25% deduction rate.
5. Denmark’s cow flatulence tax
This needs little explanation. With a mind for “going green,” Denmark has vowed to cut down on Europe’s methane gas emissions, which account for 18% of the continent’s greenhouse gasses. Slaughterhouses and farms owe a tax per cow, and in Denmark they have the highest rate: $110.
4. Swedish baby names
Choosing a name for your new baby is hard enough; but choosing a name that Sweden’s tax agency will approve of is harder. All baby names must first be approved or parents can face a fine.
3. Canada’s cereal toys tax break
No, this rule isn’t about claiming your Cheerios as an exemption. In Canada, cereal companies can get tax breaks for placing toys in their boxes. Probably the weirdest thing about this tax law is the addendum that the toys included can’t be in the category of “beer, liquor or wine.”
2. Russia’s beard tax
This law doesn’t exist in Russia today, but it’s still weird enough to make the list. In the 1700s, Peter the Great, the then czar of Russia, wanted his male population to look more like the clean-shaven men of Europe. So obviously, the answer was to tax men based on their beards.
1. China’s smoking tax revenue
In the U.S., we think of cigarette companies as facing harsh taxes and their product being taxed higher than any consumer good in the country. But in certain parts of China in 2009, the exact opposite was true. To counter an economic crisis, whole villages were given quotas of cigarette cartons to buy; the idea was to make money off the taxes and kick-start the economy. China is still facing health dilemmas regarding this weird tax law, including the World Health Organization’s estimate that Chinese people now smoke one out of every three cigarettes in the entire world.