And You Think Paying Your Taxes Stinks?


During the 1st century AD, Roman emperor Vespasian (ruled 69-79) placed a tax on urine.

The urine from public urinals was sold as an essential ingredient for several chemical processes, such as tanning leather, and by launderers as a source of ammonia to clean and whiten woolen clothing. A thriving market of urine collectors developed, so the government decided it would get its cut of the action, too.

When Vespasian’s son complained about the disgusting nature of the tax revenues, the emperor held up a gold coin and replied, “Money does not stink.” (Pecunia non olet)


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