Salzsteuer was a tax in Germany on salt, specifically on table salt.

Originally salt was considered to be a luxury and hence was taxed.

The tax was discontinued in Germany at the beginning on 1993, in Austria in 1995, but continues to this day in some parts of Switzerland.

The type of salt that is used to keep roads clear in winter was not taxed. To avoid people buying the “wrong” type of salt and avoiding the tax, the latter was coloured and had a bitter taste added – a process called vergällen.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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