The Strangest Taxes and Deductions by U.S. State
The United States, despite its own quirks and complications, can sometimes seem pretty normal in comparison to the things that go on in other countries. Take taxes — even when it comes to the most mundane of topics, our neighbors overseas can come up with hilariously bizarre charges and fines (like Sweden’s Stripper Tax).
But what about here at home? It’s not just distant foreigners who are coming up with strange taxes and write-offs — we Americans seem to be just as creative. The following is a list of the weirdest and wackiest tax laws by state.
Alabama: Playing Card Tax
Don’t count on your Jokers to get you out of this one. Alabama charges a 10 cent tax on any pack of cards that contains 54 or fewer in the deck. The seller must also pay $1 and an annual license tax of $3.
California: Vending Machine Fruit Tax
If you’re stuck with nothing but fresh fruit from the grocery store or farmers market, at least you don’t have to pay extra taxes on it. However, if you’ve got a hankering for fruit from a vending machine, it will cost you.
Illinois: Candy Tax
What is candy exactly? According to Illinois lawmakers, there’s a very specific definition. Whoppers? No. Lemondrops? Yes. Apparently, it all comes down to flour. If your snack falls under the candy category, you will pay a five percent higher sales tax on it.
Massachusetts & Virginia: Amusement Tax
If you want to have fun, you have to pay for it! Massachusetts and Virginia are among the states charging an amusement tax on admission fees for local activities. Maryland also charges this tax, but as you’ll see, they’re known for an equally perplexing tax law that’s all their own.
Minnesota: Fur Tax
Lookin’ good and staying warm will apparently cost you big. If an item of clothing is comprised of three times more fur than the next most valuable material used to make it, businesses are required to pay a 6.5 percent tax on whatever they receive for the sale, shipping and other charges (this extra cost in likely passed on to customers).
New Mexico: Centenarian Deduction
People over who are nearing the age of 100 now have something to look forward to in New Mexico. Anyone 100 years and older is exempt from income tax (who’s working at 100?), but they can’t be claimed as a dependent, unfortunately.
North Carolina: Pet Tax
Local Durham County pet owners must list their pets as personal property and pay taxes on them. It’s one more reason to spay and neuter: Cats or dogs aged four months and older will cost $10 if fixed, $75 if not.
Pennsylvania: Air Tax
Anything that comes out of a compressed air vending machine or vacuuming vending machine is subject to a sales and use tax. Why? Good question.
Tennessee: Litigation Tax
Just to add insult to injury, a tax of up to $25 may be levied on residents involved in criminal and civil court proceedings. Juvies are generally exempt.
West Virginia: Sparkler Tax
Sellers of sparklers and other “novelties” must pay an additional fee on top of the state’s six percent sales tax.
This is a pretty exhaustive catalog of taxation oddities, but there are many states we haven’t covered. Please, if you live in a state with a ridiculous tax law, let us know and we’ll add it to the list.