Tax is a strange business. It has taken governments hundreds of years to master the art of taking money from the public without getting lynched in the process. Several hundred years ago in England, houses were taxed based on how many windows they had on the principle that more windows meant bigger homes. To get around this, homeowners bricked-up the windows, only for the law to be repealed 150 years later after health problems riddled the country. Taxes have paid for wars and they have also helped to start wars. It’s a time of year we all dread, but one that tops-up the government coffers and is needed to keep the country functioning.
So, stop stressing about the inevitable and enjoy these surprising tax facts as you look forward to completing your own taxes for another year.
Companies Avoid Tax
Big companies employ all kinds of tricks to get away with paying tax. Starbucks and Amazon are notorious for this and that applies as much in the US as it does elsewhere. General Electric, for instance, earned over $4 billion in 2010 but didn’t pay a single penny in tax.
Top Earners Pay More
We all know that big companies don’t pay what they should in taxes and that the rich try to avoid them as best they can as well. But contrary to what you might have heard, this doesn’t result in a situation where the lowest earners pay most of the country’s taxes, far from it. The richest 1% actually pay 37% of the country’s tax, even though they only earn 19% of the country’s total income. The lowest earners earn 13% of the income and pay just 3% of the total tax, while 68% of the total tax bill is picked-up by the top 10%.
The average American works for around 100 hours to pay their tax bill. When you consider that we work, on average, 47 hours a week, this means that every year we spend over two weeks working for Uncle Sam.
Offer in Compromise
Tax relief is big business and for some it can seem like an insurmountable hurdle, but the best lawyers guarantee a success rate of more than 95% on an IRS offer in compromise, helping to bring some American money back to Americans.
Most small businesses and self-employed individuals hate taxes, but accountants and accounting firms don’t. In fact, more than 1 million accountants are hired every year to help American with this stressful process and the industry has boomed for decades as a result.
in the UK there is a tax on televisions known as the TV license. This is needed even if you only watch streaming services, providing those services are supplied by the BBC. On the plus side, there are no commercials on BBC programming.
Every president since Jimmy Carter has released their tax returns, with one exception: Donald Trump.
There are over 3.5 million words in the US tax codes, which is akin to 40 full-length novels. It spans over 70,000 pages, even though there were only 400 pages a century ago.
The Romans once placed a tax on urine. Far from just a waste product, urine was considered a value commodity as it was used by the tanning industry and was collected in bulk for this purpose. Bear in mind that Romans also ate rotten fish sauce and lead-tainted fruit, so this was the least of their worries.
In any given year it is estimated that Americans who don’t pay their taxes owe more than $400 billion, which is more money than the richest 5 companies in the country make every single year.