Do you know which industry brings in more than $40 billion per year for the state of Wisconsin? Or which state grants a tax break for cattle ranching? No matter which state you’re in, there’s bound to be something strange going on there.
Click through to find out the weirdest money facts about each state.
Alabama might be one of the best states for your money, but that doesn’t mean its tax system doesn’t have its quirks.
The Civil War ended over 150 years ago, but it lives on in many ways. Alabama still reportedly collects a tax that once provided funds for Confederate veterans’ pensions. Since the last veteran of Alabama’s Confederate Soldiers’ Home died in 1934, the funds were redirected toward the Confederate Memorial Park — funding that is protected by law, according to The Atlantic Monthly.
Yes, Alaska’s oil and mining industries bring in big money, but teachers have it pretty good there, too. Alaska is the highest-paying state for teachers, according to GOBankingRates’ study on teacher pay. In fact, high school teachers earn an estimated salary of $82,020, by far the highest average teacher’s salary in the U.S.
The Grand Canyon State takes its water very seriously, especially when it comes to taxes. In Arizona, ice cubes are exempt from sales tax because the government classifies them as tax-exempt food, such as in mixed drinks. Blocks of ice, however, are not considered food and are taxed. You might want to reconsider buying ice in bulk or building an ice sculpture.
If you want to get your hands dirty looking for treasure, Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas could be the place to go. Although it’s not a free tourist attraction, the state park is the only active diamond mine in the U.S. and the only diamond mine in the world that allows public visitors to hunt for diamonds, precious gems or whatever else they can find, according to Good Housekeeping.
California is a big state with a lot of industries and a long history — plenty of opportunity for weird money facts. Rep. Darrell Issa of California’s 49th Congressional District is the wealthiest member of Congress, according to a GOBankingRates study. Before his political career, he founded a vehicle security company. Today, he’s worth more than $436 million.
A $750 favor secured Colorado a little place in rock ‘n’ roll history — and its own weird money fact. In December 1968, the hit rock band Vanilla Fudge was touring the U.S. and slotted to play Denver’s Auditorium Arena. The concert promoter got a call from Vanilla Fudge’s agent, who pleaded with him to add a brand-new rock group to the lineup: Led Zeppelin.
The promoter initially refused, but when Vanilla Fudge promised to front $750 of its money if he included Led Zeppelin, he gave in. Dec. 26, 1968, marked Led Zeppelin’s first American concert, and the rest is history.
Connecticut’s capital, Hartford, holds the honor of being “The Insurance Capital of the World.” Major players in the insurance industry, such as Aetna, Cigna and Travelers, have headquarters or major operations in the city.
Delaware doesn’t have a sales tax, but that isn’t its weirdest money fact. This unusual trivia is tied to Delaware’s iconic Fenwick Island Lighthouse. At what seems like an amazing bargain now, the 87-foot lighthouse was painted in 1880 for a total cost of only about $5.
There are dozens of easily missed tax loopholes. A loophole in Florida’s Greenbelt exemption led to some outrageous attempts at a tax break, however.
The way the Greenbelt exemption works is by leasing land to carry out nominally agricultural purposes, such as growing citrus plants, timber, row crops and other qualifying property. It’s meant to shift the tax burden to other types of property in order to encourage agricultural production in the state.
One area in which land developers have notably exploited this loophole has been by buying land and then temporarily leasing it to cattle ranchers. With just one or two cows, land developers can take the tax break while cattle ranchers only rent a portion of the total land for grazing. This is otherwise known as the “rent-a-cow” tax break.
Excise taxes are collected on specific goods you purchase, such as gas or alcohol. Many states have excise taxes, but Georgia’s excise tax on cigars is unusually large: 23 percent of the wholesaler’s cost. You might want to consider taking up a different habit if you’re a Georgia resident.
Hawaii became a state in 1959, and almost immediately became a gold mine for businesses — namely, airlines. Just three days after Hawaii became a state, Pan American Airlines established the first passenger flights to the islands. Within seven years, travel to Hawaii exploded, with tourists spending $300 million in 1966.
Perhaps the weirdest money fact about Hawaii from this time in history: For $27 million, developers in 1964 built the world’s largest single-unit apartment building on Waikiki Beach.
Idaho has gained a reputation as a destination for snowbirds who visit during the summer months. But snowbirds need to keep an eye on their money when they visit. As part-time residents, they must file a tax return with Idaho if their gross income while staying as a resident is more than $2,500. So be careful if you’re trying to make money while on vacation.
Illinois has a rich history of weird money facts. One such episode is the infamous Chicago Black Sox Scandal of 1919. In a story that seems torn out of a pulp novel, a gambler named Joseph “Sport” Sullivan offered several Chicago White Sox players money to intentionally lose the 1919 World Series.
They settled on a payout of $100,000 to each player — roughly $1.4 million in 2017 dollars — in five $20,000 installments, one for each loss of the Series. The players, including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, didn’t get the full payout though. Subsequent investigations forever tarnished Jackson’s reputation, and kept him from getting inducted into the Hall of Fame.
NFL football is hands down the biggest sport in the U.S. and a huge money maker. Plus, the Super Bowl almost always helps boost the local economy of the host city.
Indiana, however, gets an even bigger boost from the annual Indianapolis 500. The Super Bowl contributed around $178 million to the local economy the year it was held in Indianapolis, according to Reuters. The Indy 500 in 2016, on the other hand, generated far more for the local economy: an estimated $336 million.
Iowa has one of the cooler and weirder money facts going for it. It’s home to what is sometimes called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” — the Grotto of the Redemption. Built from fossils and minerals, not only is it the largest, man-made grotto in the world, but it also boasts the largest collection of gems and precious stones in any one place. It’s valued at $4.3 million.
If you ever have a vending machine rob you, be sure to hold your temper if it happens in Kansas. In Derby County, you can get in trouble with the law for hitting or punching a vending machine when it has stolen your money, according to Movoto.
As a bettor or horse owner, you can potentially score a massive payout at the Kentucky Derby. But if you’re a horse owner, you’ll have details to sort out with the tax man. For example, Kentucky requires a 6 percent sales tax on stud fees. The state directs the proceeds toward multiple funds to encourage horse breeding operations.
Several U.S. states enable consumers to save big money thanks to tax-free shopping days. Louisiana is one of these states. Every September, it runs a Second Amendment sales tax holiday. For Louisiana residents, hunting supplies, ammunition and firearms are all exempt from state and local sales taxes on this day.
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Maine and West Virginia have an interesting financial fact in common. They each have the highest share of total population of Medicare beneficiaries, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
Maryland opened one of America’s oldest railroads, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, in 1827. Perhaps best known from the board game Monopoly, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company (B&O) was the nation’s very first common-carrier railroad — meaning it was chartered specifically for public use — according to American-Rails.com.
If you want to tour the scenic harbor of Boston, you’ll have to cough up money for more than just the ticket. Tickets for water- or land-based sightseeing tours, entertainment cruises or trolley tours, conducted partly or entirely in the city, are taxed at a rate of 5 percent on a quarterly basis, according to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.
Michigan is home to Detroit — the Motor City — and historic relics like Henry Ford’s assembly line plant at Highland Park, which can turn out a car in 93 minutes. Despite the state’s close association with the auto industry, Michigan is actually the most expensive state to own a car.
Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes. It’s fitting, then, that Land O’Lakes butter is one of the biggest companies in the state, not to mention No. 209 on the 2017 Fortune 500 list. In the last fiscal year, Land O’Lakes announced net earnings of $364.8 million.
Walmart is one of the largest companies in the state of Mississippi. It’s also the company with the most current and former employees in the entire state, more than any other company or organization, according to Zippia. So you won’t have much trouble finding a current or former colleague to bond with.
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St. Louis has one of America’s most recognizable landmarks: the Gateway Arch. It was built as a monument to Thomas Jefferson and his role in opening up the American West, via the Lewis and Clark expedition. The total cost to build the monument: $51.3 million over 30 years, of which more than $13 million was spent on just the arch.
The Big Sky State will give you some money back if you take advantage of Mother Nature. The state of Montana offers a large tax rebate, 30 percent, on renewable energy installation in the form of tax credits.
In 1927, businessman and soft drink maker Edwin E. Perkins invented one of the most famous beverage brands right in the great state of Nebraska: Kool-Aid. Originally, Kool-Aid cost 10 cents a package and came in six different flavors.
When the Great Depression set in, Kool-Aid sales actually increased, from $383,286 in 1931 to more than $1.5 million by 1936. During these harsh years, Kool-Aid cut its price in half, to 5 cents, making it even easier for impoverished Americans to buy more.
Gambling got started in Nevada long before Sin City was founded. In 1895, Charles Fey invented the first slot machine, called the Liberty Bell. It was the first slot machine to have the now-recognizable system of three reels consisting of five spinning symbols. It also paid in cash, whereas similar machines gave out prizes.
New Hampshire is particularly interesting when it comes to tax collection. It has no sales tax and essentially no income tax, except for a 5 percent flat-rate tax that only applies to interest and dividend income. It relies heavily on property taxes for the majority of its income, and it has one of the highest property taxes in the country.
Besides having the highest population density in the U.S., New Jersey has some of the highest effective property taxes in the U.S., according to Tax Foundation.
During World War II, New Mexico was home to one of three sites that hosted 130,000 workers and scientists who worked to build the first atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project oversaw the development and testing of atomic bombs at Los Alamos.
When the first bomb was tested, the heat from the explosion transformed the desert sand into glass. The successful test marked the end of years of research and development, and came at the cost of $2 billion — well over $20 billion when adjusted for inflation.
New York is no stranger to pricey things. In fact, the town of Water Mill is easily one of the most expensive ZIP codes in the U.S.
But New York is also home to several of the most expensive colleges in the U.S. in terms of tuition, such as Columbia University, Vassar College and Sarah Lawrence College.
The term “white goods” is an old term for everyday appliances that were often white in color back in the day. In North Carolina, there is a white goods disposal tax of $3, which is collected for the disposal of certain appliances, including refrigerators, stoves and water heaters.
North Dakota was at the center of a 21st-century oil boom that was reminiscent of the glory days of Standard Oil. But the state collects revenue on fossil fuels differently from most states.
It charges a 5 percent tax on oil and gas production, instead of property taxes on the oil- or gas-producing properties. It charges no tax on oil and gas gross value from Native American producers located on reservations, however.
Ohio is keeping up with the times when it comes to internal revenue. The state now taxes audiovisual products delivered electronically, such as Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon and much more.
Natural disasters can do serious financial damage. Oklahoma suffered a huge financial blow in May 2013, when the costliest tornado in the state’s history struck the town of Moore. This EF5 tornado, the strongest ranking on the Fujita scale, laid a path of destruction that cost an estimated $2.09 billion, adjusted for inflation.
Despite its penchant for destructive storms, Oklahoma is among the states where you’re less likely to live paycheck to paycheck.
Oregon is at once a vast agrarian state and home to one of the cultural capitals of the U.S. — Portland. So guessing who’s the richest resident there might be a tough call. But Oregon’s Phil Knight, the co-founder and chairman of Nike Inc., is a safe bet. He has a net worth of $25 billion.
Pennsylvania is chock-full of interesting state facts dating back to colonial days. Philadelphia especially is a city of superlatives for America. It was the most populous city in America when the country declared independence in 1776. It was one of the first capitals of the U.S. And, in April 1792, it became the home of the first U.S. Mint.
Some of the biggest companies in Rhode Island include well-known American names. Citizens Bank is No. 3, Ivy League school Brown University is No. 10 and CVS Pharmacy is No. 1.
The state of South Carolina offers an incentive to donate meat year-round, not just at Thanksgiving food drives. Any meat packer or butcher in the state can score a $50 tax rebate by donating a deer carcass to a charity, which can then be used to feed the hungry.
But don’t think you can just go out and hunt a deer for charity. In order to qualify for a tax deduction, you need to be a professional meat processor.
South Dakota has an interesting tax exemption. The sale of products or services to municipal or volunteer fire departments or ambulance departments is exempt from sales tax and use tax.
Collectibles can make a great investment. And Memphis sold one of the most famous collectibles around. In January 2015, at an auction at the Graceland Museum, an anonymous internet buyer bought the original acetate recording of the ballad “My Happiness,” the first song Elvis Presley ever recorded, for a cool $300,000.
Texas is one of the U.S. states with the biggest real estate bubbles. But the state holds another more positive distinction when it comes to finances. It has one of the lowest rates of personal bankruptcy, with only 132 people filing per 100,000, according to WorldAtlas.
Every year, Utah hosts one of the biggest outdoor sporting goods summits during its Outdoor Retailer event, organized by the Outdoor Industry Association. The event draws money and major outdoor sporting brands to the state.
Beverages like alcohol are frequently the target of excise taxes. But one annoying money fact about Vermont is that you’ll have to part with some extra coins to cover the 6 percent tax on soft drinks, either by sales or use tax.
With a major tech industry corridor and plenty of wealthy politicians living in D.C. suburbs, you might think the richest person in this state would fall into one of these sectors. Until recently, however, the wealthiest person in Virginia was a candyman: Forrest Mars, Jr., the grandson of Mars Candy founder Frank C. Mars.
If you don’t know, Mars owns some of the best-known brands in America, such as M&M’s, Snickers, Skittles and even Pedigree pet food. Mars Jr. had a net worth of $25 billion upon his death in 2016, according to Forbes.
If you’re looking for ways to save on utilities, the answer might be to relocate. For instance, if you want cheap power, head to Washington. The state boasts one of the lowest average electricity prices for all sectors, costing around 9 cents per kilowatt-hour. The national average is 12.5 cents, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Shoppers can take a moment to reflect on this weird money fact. West Virginia was the first state to enact a sales tax, on May 3, 1921, which went into effect on July 1, 1921.
Wisconsin has come a long way from being solely known for its cheese. The dairy industry, however, is still the state’s financial juggernaut. It contributes $43.4 billion annually to the Wisconsin economy, and is easily the biggest sector of agriculture in the state. By way of comparison, the dairy industry in Wisconsin far exceeds the $9 billion Florida makes from the citrus industry and $6.7 billion that potatoes contribute to Idaho.
For a state filled with natural wonders like Devils Tower, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming has a money fact that might seem counterintuitive. Despite Wyoming’s small population and economy, its tax climate makes it one of the best states to start a business.
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