Government Bytes


Five Quirky Taxes to Watch Out for on Tuesday's Ballot

by Curtis Kalin / /

It’s almost Election Day and voters in several states and many more localities will head to the polls to decide the fate of numerous fiscal ballot measures. Some of these proposals stand out more than others. Below we’ve listed the top five strange (and what many would consider punitive) tax issues on the ballot in 2013 that our research has identified:

  1. Airplane tax: The state of Washington is holding an advisory vote (#4) to approve the state legislature’s imposition of a new tax on companies frequently operating planes in the state. The tax would feature tiered fees based on the aircraft’s weight.
  2. Marijuana tax: Colorado was one of the states in America to legalize recreational use of marijuana in 2012. Not far behind this legalization came ballot initiatives to tax it. If passed, Colorado’s Proposition AA would impose a 15 percent excise tax on all recreational marijuana purchases in the state, as well as a 10 percent sales tax.  Voters in the cities of Boulder and Denver are considering measures that give their cities authority to impose additional sales and excise taxes on marijuana as well.
  3. Soda tax: Also in Colorado the town of Telluride is considering a one-cent per ounce tax on sweetened beverages. The revenue generated would go to children’s physical education programs in schools. Remember this is ‘per ounce’, making it a not-insignificant burden.
  4. Hotel tax: The California city of Selma is considering doubling the occupancy tax on hotels, inns, and other lodging from six to twelve percent. The tax in Measure K applies to all lodging for stays less than 30 days.
  5. Oil well tax: Still in California, the voters of Santa Fe Springs will vote to more than double the tax on barrels of oil drilled.  Measure S would take the tax from 20 cents a barrel to a maximum of 52 cents.

Also of note for local taxpayers: In California 87 school districts will vote on 45 local bond/tax measures totaling $22 billion. This far exceeds what any other state in America has on the ballot. Additionally, Arizona voters will be deciding on 11 local ballot measures that would implement $209 million for education bonds and $311 million in non-education related bonds (public safety, parks, roads, etc.)

There are many more state and local measures of note. Other entries – strange or not – from sharp-eyed taxpayers across the country are welcome!