top of page
  • Writer's pictureAgnes Chikukwa Hove

Shoes and Taxes

In 1888, in Chicago, a bridge was built to connect two parts of the city. A toll was charged but officials wanted it to be a "progressive" tax. Rich people would pay more to cross.

So how could they identify rich and poor quickly?

They had an idea, rich people wear shoes (it's 1888 remember), so they decided to charge a tax based on that. If you cross the bridge wearing shoes you pay a tax, but if you are barefoot, you cross for free.



Difficult to avoid


But it failed.


The rich simply took off their shoes and crossed the bridge. (tax Avoidance)

The poor?

They did not want to be seen as poor, so they would wear shoes or borrow shoes to cross the bridge.

This is a true story

So what are the lessons?

1. Poverty is loud, literally.

2. Poverty is in the mind, but a verb

4. The rich stay rich by not spending. The poor stay poor by spending

5. Humans are irrational

6. The rich probably get better financial advice

7. Taxing the rich to help the poor is cute but complicated.

Are you "borrowing shoes" to cross any "bridge?"

If you are, please stop.


Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page