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Pets.  That would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it?

Real Luciano

Speedy sent me an article he came across  from Reuters (reported by Philip Pullella; edited by Andrew Osborn) about the yahoos in Rome considering a tax on  family pets.  Evidently a parliamentary commission felt that this would be an excellent way to give a little boost to the nation’s diminished coffers.  The outcry was immediate and loud; the proposal was dead by the end of the day.

It got me thinking, though.  Didn’t Italy once tax house windows, and isn’t that why there are so many trompe L’oeuil windows painted on the houses of Liguria, where people are famously tight with their cash?

Tax Evasion Luciano

Probably the idea of taxing pets is not the silliest tax proposal ever made.  A quick Google search turned up an amusing list of the ten most ridiculous taxes ever, written by Jamie Frater.  It turns out that Rome is no stranger to bizarre taxes.  The emperors Nero and Vespasian taxed urine.  Poor Romans fortunate enough to have a pot to piss in paid a tax when they emptied their pots in the common cesspool.

Go ahead, tax my dog Rover – just get rid of the tax on my hat and my beard.  I think my favorite is the one called the Crack Tax: drug dealers in Tennessee were, before the law was declared unconstitutional, supposed to pay a tax, anonymously, on the illegal substances they sold.  If they got caught dealing crystal meth, say, and didn’t have the tax stamp… well, can you imagine?  They’d have been in pretty hot water!

It did give me an idea for another tax the Roman legislators might consider:

Photo courtesy of thedragonpages.blogspot.com

The Intergluteal Cleft Tax would either raise a lot of money or send fashion careening in a new direction.

Not all strange taxes are so amusing.  The poll tax in America was a de facto method of denying voting privileges in the southern states to recently freed slaves.  It was not repealed until 1964.

Anti-Poll Tax sentiment from the U.K.

The way things are going in this election year they may have to pay people to come to the polls instead.  Especially here in Rapallo where only 16,000 of 28,000 possible voters turned out two weeks ago to elect the Mayor.

There will always be taxes, I guess.  And I guess there will always be some silly ones.  I’m just glad that, for the time being anyway, there will be no taxes in Italy for owning a pet.  Speedy suggests that instead of taxing pets perhaps the legislators could tax vegetable gardens….

A nicely laid out garden on Via Betti in Rapallo