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Absurd and Ridiculous, But Real Taxes
It’s tax season again! Feelings of dread, irritation and anxiety descend upon us as we scramble to prepare and file our tax returns.
To lighten the mood, we’ve compiled a list of some of the more absurd taxes levied today.
What taxes would you add to this list?
5. Bagel Tax — New York (2010-Present)
Ordering a New York bagel requires some serious choices — plain, onion, poppy seed, cinnamon raisin, and many more — then, you have to select cream cheese, which also comes in many varieties. But, you’re not done yet … there is another decision you have to make — whole or sliced. For the privilege of having your bagel cut for you, the state of New York will charge you an eight or nine cent tax.
4. Vending Machine Fruit Tax — California (2009-Present)
The Golden State produces many delicious fruits — from grapes to strawberries to mangoes. But, if you happen to purchase California fruit while in California, avoid making your purchase from a vending machine. Buying fruit from a vending machine adds a 33 percent tax to your price. Of course, you should also ask yourself why anyone would ever buy fruit from a vending machine.
3. Candy Tax — Illinois (2009-Present)
Chicago’s tax on candy is five times the rate of normal food! But, what counts as candy? Apparently, items prepared with flour are considered food, not candy. So, while lollipops, Reese’s, and gum drops are taxed as candy, Kit Kat bars, Twizzlers, and ice cream are classified as food.
2. Jock Tax — California (1991- Present)
Sports rivalries are all fun and games until one team starts taxing another. Following the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss to the Chicago Bulls in the 1991 NBA finals, California issued the first ever Jock Tax against athletes from Chicago. Now adopted by 40 of the 50 states, athletes must pay taxes to any states where the athletes earned income, specifically money earned on games played in those states. For the 2006-2007 sports year, California pulled in a whopping $102 million from visiting athletes.
1. Crack Tax — Tennessee (2005-2009)
Yes … that’s crack cocaine. The award for the most bizarre tax goes to the state of Tennessee which, in 2005 decided to tap into a new source of tax revenue: trade of illegal drugs. Tennessee passed a law requiring drug dealers to pay a tax of $3.50 per gram of marijuana, $50 per gram of cocaine, and $250 per gram of meth and crack cocaine. Drug taxes were to be paid anonymously at the state revenue office. Surprisingly, between 2005 and 2009 when the tax was in effect, the state of Tennessee managed to collect more than $6 million in revenue from the crack tax.
These taxes make great material for a blog, but they’re also indicative of an overly complex and invasive tax regime. An abusive tax system hurts businesses and individuals by taking from them a basic element of their economic freedom: the freedom to spend their own money.
Economic freedom gives the spending power back to the individuals who have the knowledge needed to appropriately invest their own money and resources.