Richard Moore: Tax on loos plan is downright potty

Like scammers and thieves, government authorities are always on the lookout for ways to drag more money out of you.

These days council rates are dirty words and so the paper shovellers and elected officials are getting creative in how they go about pillaging your pockets.

Take the councillors from across the Kaimais who are planning a toilet tax.

The Matamata-Piako Council's "pan tax" is estimated to flush tens of thousands of dollars a year more out of community organisations.

The plan is simple - the more toilets you have, the more you pay.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

Council says the user-pays system is much fairer than the current flat rate of $593 for wastewater.

However, community groups, businesses and schools are furious at the plan.

Morrinsville College says the idea is ludicrous as the school has 40 loos and it faces a 3400 per cent jump in water bills, from $600 to $2320.

Holiday camps or hotels in the area would also feel the pain.

Mind you, there have always been those in power who have come up with weird and wonderful ways to rip money from people.

Not all of them are bad, in my opinion.

For example in Arkansas, US, you have to pay a 6 per cent tax on tramp stamps (tattoos) and piercings.

And also in America, God bless her, there is a jock tax. No that isn't about undies, rather state taxes that grab another few per cent out of the wages of highly overpaid sports stars.

Among the less obvious ones are Maine's blueberry tax of 1.5 per cent, West Virginia's 6 per cent sparklers levy and Utah's 10 per cent nudity tax that goes on any goods or services that are associated with bare bodies.

Here are some interesting revenue raisers throughout history.

France, Britain and China have all had salt taxes at some time.

In ancient Rome, Nero introduced a urine tax where public pee was collected from urinals to have its ammonia used as a whitening agent for togas. They would have needed quite a bit to get the blood out of his toga after his guards had finished with him.

Russian tsar Peter the Great detested hairy faces and so set up a beard tax, by which hirsute fellows were made to pay for their covered chins.

Many such taxes were just mean ... like Oliver Cromwell's royalist tax. That was a charge he levied on supporters of Britain's royal family and he used it to pay a militia to keep an eye on them.

In England again, we had the 1660 Hearth Tax, where the more fireplaces you had the more tax you paid. This was followed a century or so later by William Pitt the Younger's window tax. That tax resulted in many great Georgian homes having their windows bricked in to save money.

My two favourite historical taxes, though, again involved Rome and England.

In ancient Rome, they had a free slave tax. This was where a slave, who was freed after years of good service, was charged 10 per cent of his purchase price and had to hand it over to the imperial coffers.

And in 14th century England, the king decided his treasury was looking a bit thin and so he widened the tax net. He didn't put higher levies on businesses, buildings, income, property - he was much more devious.

The good monarch said to his people that they would all pay him money - if they were alive.

You have to admit the existence tax was damn clever!

Anyway, back to Matamata-Piako's toilet tax.

What else can you say, other than it's a stink suggestion?

By now everybody knows of the infamous Target episode involving the carpet cleaner.

That's where the TV consumer show caught out a carpet cleaner on camera at a client's house, doing things that really shouldn't be done outside of the privacy of your own home.

The guy was sacked by his boss, no doubt given absolute hell by his missus, and ended up in court on burglary and computer-related charges.

If only he had listened to those who told him "stop that or you'll go blind".

I read with keen interest a news brief in a paper the other day that was headed "Missing mum and daughter".

I was hoping against hope but, alas, there wasn't a mention of famous-for-being-socialites Sally and Jaime Ridge.

Shame, that means their proposed reality TV show is still likely.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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