18 Quirky International Payroll and Taxation Facts from Around the World

18 Quirky International Payroll and Taxation Facts from Around the World

The team here at Celergo has a wealth of serious and important knowledge about international payroll but, sometimes it’s nice to have a little fun too! In this post, you will find 18 of the quirkiest international payroll and taxation facts out there. We asked our payroll experts from around the world to share the most unusual (albeit from our particular cultural perspective) bits of trivia they have encountered in their vast experience, and here is what they came up with.

We’ve ordered these international payroll facts as a count down from fairly regular to down right quirky. Enjoy!

18.  Australia – An award is not what we in the US believe to be an award.

Australia’s “Modern Awards” are statutory legal documents that outline the minimum pay rates and conditions of employment. They comprise part of the national system safety net. There are 122 industry or occupation awards that cover most people who work in Australia.

17.  Any change in compensation in Russia must be signed-off on by the employee and their director via a formal “Payment Order.”

16.  Employers in Belgium think Green.

An ecocheque is a voucher given by the employer to the employee for the purchase of ecological products and services. The vouchers are issued by private businesses. Payment to employees by means of ecocheques is exempt from social security contributions and taxes.

15.  In France, a pay slip is a legally binding document.

In fact, if a pay slip is incorrect, an Employee can take legal action against their employer.

14.  South Africa collects race as a payroll requirement.

South Africa’s apartheid history is still fairly recent, and the country’s labor laws reflect a strong equity policy. The government sets certain targets (always changing) for the various percentages of different race and gender groups that a company should employ. The racial categories include:

African (Black)
Coloured (Refers to an ethnic group of people who possess some degree of sub-Saharan ancestry, but not enough to be considered Black under South African law.)
Indian / Asian

13. Listing your religion is a required field in German payroll.

12. In Brazil, labor laws have been setup up very strictly for the protection of employees, sometimes to a fault.

With that said, employees who do not take their 30-day accrued vacation after their 1st-year employment are entitled to “vacation penalty”. This penalty is paid by the employer and consists of a double vacation payment. So the employee will go on vacation for 30 days and receive 60 days of remuneration on the first day of vacation. Many employees take advantage of this labor law and fail to inform the employer when their vacation is due, forcing their employer to pay the penalty.

11.  In South Korea, women are entitled to Menstrual Leave.

Female employees can take one day off every month, but not paid.

10.  Both the UK and Ireland offer employers the ability to implement a “cycle to work scheme.”

The cycle to work scheme encourages employees to cycle (ride their bike) to work and allows employers to reap the benefits of a healthier workforce.

9. Annual Salary has a very different meaning in India than the US.

More than just cash remuneration, in India, one’s annual salary is typically broken into many different allowances and/or components with various tax treatments. These allowances include some unusual (to Americans) benefits for ordinary employees. Here are just a few examples:

House Rent Allowance (HRA) – HRA is basically an allowance, which forms a part of one’s taxable salary. It is in the range of the 40% or 50% of basic salary. It is not mandatory for the employer to give HRA. But, if an employer chooses to offer the allowance as part of salary then employee may get some part of it as tax-free if the employee satisfies certain conditions.
Conveyance Allowance – This allowance is granted to meet employee’s expenditure for the purpose of commuting between the place of his residence and the place of duty is tax free to the extent of INR 800 per month.
Leave Travel Allowance – Leave Travel Allowance (LTA) is granted by the employers, to the employees, as part of the remuneration to provide for travel expenses incurred during the year. Leave Travel Allowance also covers such expenses of the spouse, children as well as dependent parents and siblings.

8. It is not uncommon for individuals in Afghanistan to receive their net pay into a mobile phone account rather than a bank account.

Many people do not have bank accounts but most do have cell phones.

7.  In Ireland, writers, artists, and composers are spared from paying tax.

Controversy surrounds this issue because there is no cap to the regulation. It is rumored that this even includes Bono, lead singer of the mega-famous rock band U2. That is a lot of missed tax revenue!

6.  Libya collects a Jihad Tax through payroll.

It was founded in the 1970s to aid the Palestinians in their struggle against Israel. More recently, the fund was used to build Islamic universities and proselytize. The use of the proceeds today, in the wake of Libya’s political upheaval, is unclear.

5.  At the end of the 17th century, Russian Emperor Peter the Great introduced a tax on men’s facial hair in a bid to modernize the country’s society.

All bearded men were forced to the pay the charge and carry around a copper or bronze token to show they had paid the tax.


4.  The oldest pay stub in the world shows that in Ancient Mesopotamia people were paid in beer.

Take a look here, it’s not too far off from the startups of today putting kegs in their office…

3.  On a Pacific island called Niue, they have Mickey Mouse on their coins.

They really do…

international payroll facts mickey mouse coin

2. On the tiny island called Yap, they used giant limestones a currency.

These limestones had to be rolled they were so heavy and huge!

1. Last, but certainly not the least (funny) fact: Denmark has a cow fart tax.

Definitely the most ridiculous out of the bunch, but the impact to climate change logic is sound.


We hope you enjoyed these quirky international payroll and taxation facts, we had a great time putting them together. If you have any questions for us on payroll around the globe, please feel free to contact our team. We are here to help!



**This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice.


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