America's independent, non-partisan advocate for overburdened taxpayers.

 

Blog Contributors

Brandon Arnold
Vice President of Government Affairs 

Dan Barrett
Research and Outreach Manager 

Demian Brady
Director of Research 

Christina DiSomma
Communications Intern 

Timothy Howland
Creative Content Manager 

Curtis Kalin
Communications Intern 

Ross Kaminsky
Blog Contributor 

David Keating
Blog Contributor 

Douglas Kellogg
Communications Manager 

Sharon Koss
Government Affairs Intern 

Richard Lipman
Director of Development 

Joe Michalowski
Government Affairs Intern 

Diana Oprinescu
Communications Intern 

Austin Peters
Communications Intern 

Kristina Rasmussen
Blog Contributor 

Lee Schalk
State Government Affairs Manager 

Pete Sepp
Executive Vice President  

Nan Swift
Federal Government Affairs Manager 

Top Ten Most Mind-Boggling Taxes


Austin Peters
August 13, 2013

Is there anything more confounding than someone who doesn’t think we are over taxed? While it may initially seem impossible for an individual to be so oblivious, the world does not have tax ‘price tags’ posted on everything to remind you.

Demonstrating the breakdown of who pays the burden of income taxes, for example, is clearly important – yet, sometimes it’s better to focus on the smaller, widespread, tax burdens we all face. After all, nobody is able to avoid the burden of government.

To that aim, we put together this collection of the “Top 10 Most Mind-Boggling Taxes,” perhaps your city or state has made the list!

10. Fountain Soda (Chicago)

In Chicago there is big difference if you are drinking out of a can or a fountain; if it’s the former, the additional tax is 3 percent while the latter is taxed at 9 percent. Around for over a decade, this tax aims to curb obesity by making the usually larger fountain sodas more expensive to purchase.

9. Blueberries (Maine)

Maine produces 99 percent of the blueberries picked wildly in the nation. They also slap a one-and-a-half cent tax per pound on anyone growing, handling, processing, selling or purchasing blueberries. For what it’s worth, this tax is one of the oldest on our list: blueberry harvesters have been paying this tax since 1945.

8. Tan Tax (United States)

This infamous piece of “Obamacare” is a 10 percent federal tax on tanning bed services. Arguably attempting to discourage the using of these bed services, the tax does not apply to spray on services. For those who were hoping the “temporary” tax would be removed, the tax was made permanent in 2010.

7. Tattoos (Arkansas)

While this tax seems like it should be a relic of a different era, Arkansas implemented this 6 percent tax on permanent body art in 2005. If this incentivizes you to opt for that piercing you have been eyeing instead, you’re out of luck there too; body piercings and electrolysis are included .

6. A New Kind of Death Tax (Seattle)

Starting in 2011, it began to cost more for handling a death in Seattle. In addition to any estate tax you may face, it costs $50.00 to report a death to the Medical Examiner’s Office. If you don’t pay up, you won’t receive the necessary paper work for burial or cremation.

5. “Bagel” Tax (New York)

Was that bagel you’re eating sliced when you received it? If so, New York considers it a prepared food and adds an eight-cent tax to the bill. On the books for quite a while, New York took the step to start enforcing the tax in 2010, enraging New Yorkers and bagel store owners in particular. While eight pennies may not seem like a huge increase, one store owner is reporting he owes thousands of dollars in back taxes as a result!

4. Tethered Hot Air Balloon Rides (Kansas)

Going hot air balloon riding in Kansas? Well, if you’re scared to be blown away to OZ and opt to have your balloon tethered to the ground, then you are subject to local amusement park ride taxes. However, if you take a ride on the wild side and your hot air balloon ride is determined to be “untethered, piloted, and travels for some distance downwind of the launching point”, then you are considered to be partaking in air commerce and consequently your ride not subject to the tax.

3. Playing Card Tax (Alabama)

Beginning in 2004, Alabama imposes a 10-cent tax on each deck of cards that contains up to 54 cards. In addition, if you wish to sell a deck of cards, make sure you purchase your playing card privilege license before you do so.

2. “Luxury” Coffee Lids (Colorado)

In March 2010 Colorado eliminated a tax protection for “non-essential” packaging for food and drinks bought at restaurants and convenience stores. The move led to several interesting classifications including coffee cups being deemed essential while coffee lids were determined to not be. As a consequence, coffee shops are subject to (and, therefore, coffee drinkers must pay) a 2.9 percent luxury item tax on sleeves and lids.

1. The Non-Governmental “Jock Tax” (Tennessee)

This $2,500 per-game tax (max 3 games) tops the list despite not being quite as obviously strange as the other taxes. That’s because despite many states having so-called “jock taxes,” this is the only tax on the list where the money does not even go to the government – rather it heads to stadium owners who likely already benefitted from taxpayer-backed deals and own the team. If you thought government getting one more cent of your money was frustrating, this odd tax situation manages to add insult to injury.

This list should settle it once and for all, if you make it or do it, they will tax it.


Sources:

1. http://www.revenue.state.il.us/businesses/taxinformation/sales/softdrink.htm
2. http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fin/supp_info/revenue/tax_list/fountain_soft_drinktax.html
3. http://money.cnn.com/2003/01/06/pf/taxes/q_oddtaxes/
4. http://www.maine.gov/legis/ofpr/compendium/compend/compendium.htm
5. http://thehill.com/blogs/regwatch/healthcare/304453-irs-cements-obamacares-tanning-tax
6. http://money.cnn.com/2005/02/18/pf/taxes/strangetaxesupdate/
7. http://www.forbes.com/fdc/welcome_mjx.shtml
8. http://money.cnn.com/2010/08/25/smallbusiness/bagel_tax/index.htm
9. http://www.us.kpmg.com/microsite/taxnewsflash/2010/Jul/twist-072610-ks.pdf.
10. http://money.cnn.com/2004/03/31/pf/taxes/strangetaxes/
11. http://revenue.alabama.gov/tobaccotax/faqtt.cfm.
12. http://www.travelerstoday.com/articles/5763/20130411/travel-taxes-strange-unexpected.htm
13. http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/07/19/the-strange-tax-levied-against-players-in-grizzlies-games/


 

Comment on this blog

Nickname
Comment
Enter this word:

User Comments

Submitted by voluntaryist at: August 21, 2013
As long as there is govt. there will be the rulers and ruled, the payees and payers, the masters and the slaves. Taxation is theft.

Submitted by Dan Sullivan at: August 21, 2013
In Pennsylvania, tissue paper pays sales tax but toilet paper does not. Apparently wiping one's bottom is a necessity, but blowing one's nose is a luxury.

Submitted by Jojo at: August 21, 2013
if you were not so un-American....you'd get it.

Submitted by John Reagan at: August 17, 2013
"Is there anything more confounding than someone who doesn’t think we are over taxed?" .. Actually, for what we get from the taxes we pay, it's a hot deal. Imagine building roads, providing education, running a modern military when a failed aircraft costs $1.3 Trillion to develop with no taxes.. Won;t happen. And, consider living in other countries with very burdensome taxes. It's not so bad here..And yes..I do know what a tax bite can be. One year, my Federal and State taxes amounted to over $68,000. Didn't bother me. In fact, the old expression 'Be thankful you earned so much you had to pay those taxes' suited me at the time. And maybe instead of being upset at various admittedly odd taxes, you might consider being upset over unusual tax breaks that you and I can't partake of.. Like the Mitch McConnell engineered tax break that allowed Mitt Romney to write off his $100,000 horse, or the tax credit for 'rubber Tipped Arrow' manufacturers here in the US .. ;-)