The daily Mirror recently ran an article about 8 of the weirdest taxes ever. It’s quite amazing the number of creative ways that governments have sourced to raise revenues, from body piercings in Arkansas to a soap tax in Hungary. Number one in the list though is the Beard Tax.
Beard tax improves social standing
Strange as it may seem the tax has been introduced by three separate monarchs. The first to start collecting it was Henry VIII in 1535 and perversely it actually encouraged men to grow beards so they could demonstrate that they had the means to pay for it. It did disappear though through the turbulent years of Edward and Mary and was only re-introduced by Henry’s daughter, Elizabeth I. She added an additional caveat that the tax only applied to men with over two weeks of growth. It’s not completely clear how this was measured but presumably lots of baby faced men with a smattering of bum fluff fell under the radar.
Just to prove it wasn’t just an English peculiarity, Russia’s Peter the Great also introduced a similar tax in the 17th century although his aim was not just raise money but also to modernise.
Beard transplant – a 21st century solution
Given the current popularity of beards it could be quite a lucrative 21st century tax to help deal with the ravages of austerity. Men are investing thousands in getting facial furniture that would be impressive in any age. Beard transplants, once a niche procedure, have now become one of the staples for hair transplant surgeons who report phenomenal growth in the last few years. Like a normal hair transplant the hair is taken from the back and sides of the scalp but instead of being migrated to the top it’s transplanted into the face to meet the requirements of the patient. The question is, would he have enough left to pay the tax after the cost of the transplant.