Time for a more light-hearted look at some unusual (or useless!) tax facts as we approach the end of the alphabet! with our A-Z tax blog series.

Weird and wonderful facts:

  1. One of the first recorded taxes in the UK was the Danegeld, a tax on Anglo-Saxon landowners to pay off Viking raiders.


  1. During medieval times, knights were allowed to opt out of their duties to fight in wars by paying a tax called ‘scutage’ which was quickly dubbed a cowardice tax. Some claim that its excessive tax rate contributed to the creation of the Magna Carta, which limited the king’s power.


  1. The infamous window tax, supposedly the origin of the term ‘daylight robbery’, was introduced in 1696 and lasted for 150 years. Evidence of bricked-up windows in some of our oldest buildings still survives today.


  1. In 1753 the tax year was extended from 24 March to 5 April as Britain replaced the Julian calendar with the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, the years of tax assessment ended on 5 April from 1753 onwards and became operative when income tax was introduced by William Pitt the Younger in 1799.


  1. In 1795 the Hair Powder Tax was introduced. This was a tax on the aromatic powders that men and women put on their wigs. This led to a dramatic decline in the popularity of wigs and is credited with putting an end to Britain’s flourishing wig industry.


  1. In 1966, The Beatles released their song ‘Taxman’ as a protest against a 95 per cent supertax rate.

“Let me tell you how it will be

There’s one for you, nineteen for me
‘Cause I’m the taxman
Yeah, I’m the taxman”


  1. The UK’s tax code, at over 10 million words, is one of the longest and most complicated in the world.


  1. The term ‘Budget’ derives from the French word bougette, meaning ‘little bag’ in which the chancellor of the exchequer keeps his papers. Before the term Budget was used, the chancellor’s annual statement was known as ‘opening the ways and means’ for the year.


  1. The top 1% of earners pay approximately 30% of all income tax.


  1. Albert Einstein once said ““The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax.” However, the more famous quote belongs to Benjamin Franklin who said that “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”


We hope you enjoyed this blog on unusual tax facts. Please remember that if you need help with any of your taxes, please get in touch with our Tax Advisory Team.