Hang on, lads; I’ve got a great idea

August 31, 2012

Yesterday I suggested that a land tax might be a good idea and tweeted and facebooked a link to the blog entry.  Here’s the subsequent thread of facebook comments (names redacted, but number 3 was me)

  1. Give me the wealth and I’ll give you the tax.
  2. Nah: beard, hearth and window.  A return to the old values.
  3. Beard tax! Oh yes, let’s do that one!
  4. Can I now be a member of an irrationally oppressed minority?
  5. If we didn’t have to pay tax the country would become a lot wealthier.  Of course no schools and hospitals or police or NHS.  I agree with you, Wendy; a Beard tax will do.

And, you know, it being Friday and all, I got to thinking.  What ABOUT a beard tax?  So here’s the draft TIIN.


Tax Information and Impact Note for the introduction of the Beard Tax

Who is likely to be affected?

This measure applies to all natural persons resident or ordinarily resident in the UK, and to all natural persons visiting the UK for more than 20 consecutive days.

General description of the measure

This measure requires any natural person present in the UK to pay a levy if they wear a beard.

Policy objective

This measure supports the Government’s objective of a more competitive corporate and personal tax system to provide the right conditions for business investment and growth, by putting the onus on the taxpayer to decide whether the ambition to demonstrate facial hair growth outweighs the requirement to pay the tax.

Detailed proposal

This measure defines “beard” as a facial hair density (“fhd”) (not including vellus hair) of more than 13 hairs per square inch (“psi”) over the “chinbeard” area.  This area is defined as the area surrounding a natural person’s mouth measured from

  • below the eyes
  • between the ears
  • to the topmost point of the Adam’s apple

Any person with a chinbeard fhd of 13 psi and above is subject to the tax, which will be calculated on a daily basis.  Beards, sideburns, moustaches and other facial extrusions will, should their root be within the chinbeard area and their length be greater than 0.005 inches, be included in the calculation of the chinbeard fhd.  In other words, a particularly stupid moustache may also qualify as a “beard” for these purposes.

Any person with a 13 psi fhd at 8.30 am will be liable to the tax for that day and must, if challenged by a properly accredited officer of HMRC, be able to produce a Beard Tax Token for the day in question (these will be available either as a token or as an electronic card obtainable from HMRC which may be “topped up” at any cash machine) or be subject to the Beard Tax Token Penalty (initially £50, rising to £100 a day.  And, for repeat offenders, waxing.)

Summary of impacts

Exchequer impact (£m)

This will be calculated by taking the expected deficit, dividing by the number of beard-wearers estimated to be affected, divided by the number of days in the year, and then charged on a daily basis.  The final figures will be subject to scrutiny by the Office for Budget Responsibility, and will be set out at Budget 2014.

Economic impact

The measure is not expected to have any economic impacts.  Clearly razors and shaving cream will be banned under the associated anti-avoidance provisions which may impact on the steel and pharmaceutical industries but any impact is expected to be negligible.

Impact on individuals and households

Individuals subject to the tax will make a daily choice between shaving before 8.30 or self-certifying for the tax and acquiring the necessary token.  It won’t take but a minute, honest.

Equalities impacts

No different impact on any equality group has been identified. (Ed: that’s what we usually put, I think.  We aren’t going to get any comeback from the bloody feminists this time are we?)

Impact on business including civil society organisations

This measure is not expected to have an impact on businesses or civil society organisations.

Operational impact (£m) (HMRC or other)

This measure will not have any impact on HMRC’s operating costs.  Yes, I know they’ll have to chase around checking whether the beardies have bought their tokens but they’re not getting any more money out of us for it.  Hell, I don’t know.  They can close down another contact centre or something, can’t they?

Other impacts

No other impacts have been identified. (Ed. That’s what we usually say, isn’t it?  The tree-huggers aren’t going to kick up a fuss and say we’re, I don’t know, putting up heating bills by losing facial insulation or something?)

Monitoring and evaluation

This measure will be kept under review through communication with affected taxpayer groups. No, really.

(Note: economic impact edited, as I had neglected to avoidance-proof the first draft!)


  1. You might want to tighten up the definition of ‘beard’. Does this only apply to hair grown in that person’s face? What about those who shave first thing, but then stick a luxurious false beard over the top and swan around all day like George Vth, tax free.

    • Clearly there’s more work to do on avoidance proofing!

  2. On behalf of the British Association of Beard and Mustache Wearers, I feel I should make the following points:

    We are concerned that your proposal is discriminatory – in particular it will potentially include stylish mustaches, whilst at the same time the lower bound of the density measure could potentially exclude those tiny wispy goatee beards which the Association recently voted to outlaw on the grounds that they make you look even more stupid than a normal goatee.

    We are also concerned that your proposal lacks a serious consideration of the behavioural responses that your tax would encourage. As currently expressed, the last person in the UK foolish enough to be left with a beard would be legally liable for the entire UK deficit. We believe this would have a huge impact on the culture of silly mustaches and beards in the UK, coupled with a greater economic impact on the male cosmetic sector than you anticipate.

    • I actually quite LIKE the idea that the last man with a beard will be responsible for the entire deficit! Nominations on a postcard, please…?

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