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Snooping around the Rotterdam Tax & Customs Museum: Ancient and Contemporary!

Categories: Culture

“In this world nothing is certain except death and taxes.” Echoed Benjamin Franklin in 1817. Taxes, were just as relevant in ancient times as they are now in modern life and are, as we know, also very annoying. Especially if you are in the higher income brackets and you’re 30% ruling has expired (I mean >50% really!?). It’s not all bad news mind you.

The Belasting and Douane (Tax and Customs) Museum opened in Rotterdam almost eighty years ago and maintains a rich heritage of customs and taxes. It also presents strange and ancient taxes imposed on citizens throughout the years. Entrance to the museum will cost you a cool €5,50 EUR and is located at  Parklaan 14-16 in Rotterdam

Muntgewichtdoos (Coin Box Weight) – Circa. 1750. With the help of a balance this aparatus was used by merchants and tax collectors against fraudulent coinsThe museum has various collections which include interesting paintings, drawings, glass works and photographs which depict the elusive art of tax collection.  Uniforms of the tax officers throughout the ages can also be seen. You’ll also find instruments and contraband items along with really interesting insight into how smugglers used to operate (tips & tricks!). An interesting aspect of the museum is the taxes which existed (and in some cases continue to exist). Examples include a tax on wigs and of course fans to cool the aristocrats who used them. Other interesting examples include a tax on the number of chimneys or on the surface area of the windows of one’s house.

Most notably is the tax on dogs. Historically dogs were seen as ‘employees’ as they helped their masters pull trolleys and/or other inanimate objects. The tax was later then justified as a sort of cost for collecting the dog poop on the street.  Today this tax on dogs still remains but you have to clean the lovely presents your dog leaves behind yourself. Check with your local Gemeente for rules and regulations.

All in all the Rotterdam Tax and Customs museum makes for a great day out with friends and family. They also feature a unique space which you can rent for events and gatherings.

Have you done your taxes yet?   This article is sponsored by Tax Direct. A leading provider of financial services in The Netherlands. Book your appointment today or use the handy online service!