Professionally speaking, taxes are a burdensome charge many Americans are expected to pay on a daily basis. Unprofessionally speaking, taxes stink. Taxes have been enforced as a means to supply the government with money to cover various expenses. Given the nation’s extreme debt and poor economy, many states have needed to get creative with how they tax Americans.
Check out a few of the most bizarre taxes from across the U.S.:
1. Bagel Tax
How do you make a New Yorker angry? Get in between them and a delicious bagel and cream cheese. New York City-dwellers were outraged recently when the city decided to enforce a tax law requiring bagel vendors to add an 8-cent fee for customers who requested a sliced bagel. Even worse, adding cream cheese or other toppings boosts the sales tax. Vendors didn’t bother enforcing the tax until a massive audit hit 2,500 restaurants. Many individuals believe it is because New York is running a large deficit and scrambling to find money wherever it can.
Strangely enough, if you exchange your sliced bagel for sliced bread you can avoid this sales tax altogether.
2. Tanning Tax
You could hear the hearts of aspiring Snookies breaking across the nation on July 1, when a 10% tanning tax became effective. This tax is enforced by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It’s a strange-sounding tax backed by logical reasoning — indoor tanning is popular and unhealthy and by enforcing a tax the government will earn more capital along with encouraging individuals to cut down on tanning. Those of you planning on having a fresh-from-the-beach look this winter may think of investing in some self tanner to get that all-natural, sun-kissed look.
3. Illegal Drug Tax
You read that right: Illegal Drug Tax. Passed in 2005, the appropriately monikered “Crack Tax” was applied to illegal drugs such as cocaine, marijuana and other substances in Tennessee. The way payment works is drug dealers must pay anonymously at the state revenue office where they receive proof of payment. Tennessee is not the only state enforcing this crazy tax: More 30 states have similar tax laws, according to CNN.com. Arizona was the first state to implement an illegal drug tax to boost revenue in 1983.
4. Candy Tax
In 2oo9, the Illinois Department of Revenue released a list of items that would be affected by tax changes. It stated, “For Illinois taxing purposes, candy is a preparation of sugar, honey, or other natural or artificial sweeteners, in combination with chocolate, fruits, nuts or other ingredients, or flavorings in the form of bars, drops, or pieces.” Although the tax itself may not sound weird, it’s effects are. For example, next time you go to the store and debate which flavor popcorn to buy, be aware that caramel popcorn will cost you more. If you prefer yogurt covered raisins to regular you will also pay a higher tax. Even more puzzling is the fact that items such as yogurt covered pretzels, chocolate covered cookies and Twix bars are exempt from the higher tax rate because items that contain flour or need refrigeration are not considered candy.
5. Bribe Tax
If you are making a living as a criminal your state and federal government expects you to pay taxes on your earnings. In the IRS 2009 Individual Tax Guide, the government outlines bribes as a form of income and therefore require Americans to pay taxes on bribes despite their illegality. They also require individuals to pay tax on stolen property, stating “If you steal property, you must report its fair market value in your income in the year you steal it, unless in the same year, you return it to its rightful owner.”
6. Tax Holiday
This next section doesn’t deal as much with things that are unusually taxed, but actually with things that are unusually un-taxed. The state of Florida decided to give parents a break this back to school season by offering a “2010 Sales Tax Holiday.” The Florida legislature crafted a list of tax-exempt items that would help parents save some money while shopping for school supplies. Some of the strange items on this list include: fanny packs, fishing vests (but not fishing boots), garters and garter belts, bowling shoes, and ski suits. Some strange things that remain taxable during this “Sales Tax Holiday,” created for back to school shopping: computer paper, masking tape, printer paper, staples and athletic protective masks.
Along with strange taxes there is also a long list of items that were eligible for a tax deduction including: free beer, breast implants, body oil and baby sitting costs. If you are stressed about paying taxes or paying to get your taxes filed check out this story about free tax filing.