Unusual Tax Cases in the World!

31 Mar 2021  Read 336 Views

Have you ever wondered about some of the most unusual tax disputes in the world or the weirdest taxes that once existed? If not, then these cases and taxes will surely surprise you! One of the weirdest taxes that emerged in Ancient Rome was none other than Bachelor tax, yes you heard it right! This was broadly practiced in the year 1821 in Missouri in the USA. The bachelors had to pay a tax of $1 but it never became a law. 

Another weird tax was the Flush tax, sounds quirky right? The tax was levied for excess toilet flushing at $5 per month. Thankfully, the law is not applicable in India. In case you are already shocked, there’s some more coming your way! 

You must have heard about how people/companies try their best to avoid taxes as much as they can. so in this article we will be discussing some unusual and strange tax dispute cases that have happened around the world.  

7 Unusual Tax Disputes which are Strange & Funny

We have discovered some most usual tax cases that will keep you intact with your seats once you follow these:

1. Parachute Oil - An Edible Oil

“Coconut hair oil now in bigger packs” in order to avoid tax. Strange! Well, this case is about “when Parachute wasn’t a hair oil”. Usually, the branded oils come in a pack of 50 ml or 100 ml. But the FMCG Companies had re- engineered the packaging of your favorite coconut hair oil in order to skip the purview of CBEC so as to impose 8% excise section 37B of the Central Excise Act, 1944 on product packs under 200 ml.  The assessing officer held that the coconut oil of the brand name Parachute is generally understood as hair oil and is therefore liable to tax at 12.5% followed by an order of the tribunal that Marico and Parachute oil is edible oil. 

2. Subway Bread contains sugar

This case happened in London where the Brook finders Ltd which was a subway franchise holder, argued a case in supreme court after his application was rejected by the lower court, that its product like the teas, coffees and heated sandwiches cannot be held liable for value added tax. The judges rejected the plea of the appellant and ruled that the bread sold by subway contains 10% sugar which is more than the permitted limit of 2% to make it exempted from value added tax. 

3. How Sachin Tendulkar saved Taxes?

Sachin Tendulkar is popularly known to be the “God of Cricket” who once in order to save taxes pleaded himself as an actor and not a cricketer (Sachin R. Tendulkar v. Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax). Income Tax Appellate Tribunal in this case stated that earnings from Cricket would fall under “Income from Other Sources” and Sachin has been getting tax deduction benefits on acting from 1997.

4. Baby Wipes - Cosmetic or Non- cosmetic Product?

GST was introduced in India in 2016 and since then there have been confusions relating to the classification of the products under different tax slabs. Concerning the Himalaya drug Company, a dispute occurred where the company claimed its baby wipes was non cosmetic products and paid only 12% GST instead the government classified the product under cosmetic products and demanded 18% GST on it. 

5. KitKat: Chocolate or wafer?

Do you know? In Nestle India Ltd Vs Commissioner of Central Excise, Mumbai, it was clearly held that KitKat, which was taxed very high is a biscuit and not a chocolate. The confusions regarding the nature of such products puts the government in a huge dilemma thus, making it difficult for them to fix taxes. It was stated that if KitKat was a wafer with chocolate coating then 10% tax would be attracted and 20% in vice versa scenario. Hence, KitKat is finally a wafer.

6. Digging your Past Taxes - The Vodafone Case?

In this particular case, Vodafone took over Hutch which was a network service provider in 2007. In the year 2012, Vodafone was asked to pay taxes worth Rs 20000 crore, this matter was challenged in the Supreme court which gave its judgement in favour of  Vodafone but after this government came up with the GAAR rules which gave govt the power to dig past tax details of the company after which Vodafone was asked to pay the amount with retrospective effect. Recently, Vodafone won the case in the international court of Arbitration.

7. Kerala Parotta- Tussle between Roti & Kerala Parotta! 

In this particular case the question raised about the GST on Kerala Parotta which is a much- liked food in the southern part of India. The GST charged on Kerala parotta was charged 18% GST instead of its cousins from north being like roti and chapati being charged at 5%.


We reckon that these unusual tax cases as well as the weird taxes might have blown your mind. The analysis of the courts and tribunals in these events had left us with some remarkable cases. Throughout history, there have been many weird, strange and usual tax cases where parties by hook or by crook tried saving their taxes. No doubt that tax laws are complicated yet they can be strange and weird.

About the Author: Kakoli Nath | 21 Post(s)

Kakoli Nath is a legal Content writer at Finology Legal, pursued BBA.LL.B (5 years integrated course) from ITM University, Raipur with core interests in criminal law and IPR and had also been a judicial aspirant. she pursued advanced certification in Forensics Psychology and Criminal Profiling from IFS, Pune; and had also undergone training as a patent analyst under IIPTA.

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