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Some years ago I was about to depart Vancouver (and Canada) and I had a bundle of $50 notes which I was saving for my next visit.

I also had $6.25 of Canadian currency left in coin. I went into a convenience store and carefully picked out goods to the value of $6.25 so as to get rid of the small change. I was shocked, when at the cash-register I was asked for $7.19. The difference of course, was the VAT or GST – same horse, different colour.

In the USA some bills have add-ons of city, state and federal taxes. Sometimes the tip is calculated and added to the bill.

In Australia we have different rules applying for different industries, but restaurants are forbidden to present a menu (in technical legal terms this is an invitation to treat) with pre-tax prices coupled with a “plus GST” addition.

Any complaints about restaurant price “rip offs” usually ignore the fact that 1/11th of the bill goes straight to Canberra.

The list of products that are exempted from this tax (headed by uncooked meat, fruit and vegetables) tells an interesting story about what our politicians regard as “essentials” in our daily lives.