The Luxury Tax – Asia, Europe, South America

The following is a guide to how the luxury tax is levied, worldwide.


China has the highest tax in the region! Charging a hundred times the regular price is typical. If you negotiate at all, they will stand two inches in front of your face, and scream You PAY, you PAY NOW. In India a bunch of bananas costs four cents. The bidding starts at 25 cents. You can get the price down to 12 cents. You really get to know the Banana lady. This process starts completely new every single day. What is time, anyway? Generally the tax in Thailand is collected painlessly. Tourists are corralled in "fun" ways – special parts of Bangkok, tours of native people in the north, island time – none of which have a "normal" price, fine with the vast majority of travellers. The real tax is for falangs (long nosed devils) who live in Thailand all the time. Falangs own 49% of their business; their Thai partner owns the other 99%. Before the last corruption scandal, the lying and stealing escalated. No one gave correct prices or change for anything. This may be better now. Singapore has the lowest luxury tax in the area. The anti-corruption is breathtaking; it's one of the things dictatorships do best. But I'm in no mood to quibble, it's so much cleaner than at home. Malaysia is impressively low also. Everyone is a sweetie pie in Laos – go there.


Greece's taxes are astronomically high. The harder they slam the change on the counter, the more they are stealing. But you want to get off the island, don't you? It helps if you speak Greek! Greek.(I¡.$B%9. Italy is the most improved. I have no idea why. On my first trip in 1991, absolutely everyone chiselled, last summer no one did. A mystery. Germany has the lowest luxury tax, Germans do everything correctly. Netherlands also. The luxury tax is horrendous in Croatia, but the scenery is incredible. Bosnia has the lowest tax and the most likable people. See for yourself. Ditto for Turkey.


Argentina has the lowest luxury tax, they're too proud to steal. Buenos Aires is the exception, where the passions are: football, grilled meat and ripping off tourists, in that order. The peso and the U.S. dollar used to have parity. Now the peso is worth thirty cents; they have to make it back somehow, don't they? Brazil is the worst. It's not their fault, they are so beautiful, you really should buy them a soda. Maybe their mother really is sick.