A Beard Tax – Go Figure!

Beard Token Coin

As Tax Day (April 15) approaches, and we’re all still scrambling to file, many of us are letting our daily tasks go – including grooming. It’s good to know that razor stubble won’t be taxed in 2015 — but there was a time when it did.

In 1535, King Henry VIII of England began to tax beards. His main concern was to allow the richest men in the kingdom to use this tax to set them apart from the merely rich. The tax was based on the wearer’s social status and style of beard. The higher the tax, the richer you were. Of course no one’s beard commanded more tax than the king’s himself — except that he didn’t pay taxes…

In an effort to raise money for her army, his daughter Queen Elizabeth I, reintroduced the Beard Tax on any beard with more than two week’s growth, regardless of status. This tax lasted throughout her 45-year reign. Her Beard Tax collectors were vast and swift and left no facial hair unmeasured to return sovereigns to the throne.

But things change. And the western world was beckoning.

In order to keep up with fashionable and modern European style, Russian Tsar Peter the Great imposed a tax on any beard and mustache in order to keep his countrymen clean-shaven. He began the movement by cutting off the beards of all his noblemen himself — at a dinner he held (unbeknownst to them) for this very purpose. In fact, in order to ensure compliance, you had to pay the tax before you even grew the stubble. After you applied for and paid the tax, you received a beard token and then, only then, with beard token in hand, were you legal to have a facial hair. The beard token “coin” had an ample beard and mustache prominently displayed on the front and the beard wearer had to have it on him at all times or face a fine. The beard token was inscribed with two phrases: “the beard tax has been taken” (lit: “Money taken”) and “the beard is a superfluous burden.”

Now many of us grow facial hair because we don’t have time to shave while preparing our own taxes.

Good to know there’s ClearShave 3-in-1 for us all to clean-up after tax season is over.