6,000 BC – Labour Obligation Tax
Under the Bala Tax, Mesopotamia taxed almost everything – livestock, grains, handicrafts, funerals, etc. The most burdensome tax though was the Labor Obligation. This was also called the ‘going’ or ‘burden’ in Babylonian languages.
Under the Labor Obligation Tax, a free man, the head of his household, owed the government several months’ of labour service per year. The government determined what labour they required done, and who would do what job. The labour obligation could range from harvesting government fields (which was safe and you get to sleep in your own bed every night) to fighting wars abroad (which was very dangerous and probably your final job).
Wealthier men financialy engaged in tax planning to avoid the Labour Obligation Tax. They did this by either sending a slave, hiring someone on their behalf, or paying a bribe, to meet their obligations. Although substitution was illegal, it was widely practised.
"You’d be stupid not to try to cut your tax bill and those that don’t are stupid in business"
- Bono: U2