Weird and Wacky Taxes Around the U.S.

A tax is an amount of money that people have to pay that's used to run the government and provide services that people need. Everybody in America pays taxes, but we don't all pay the same amount of taxes on the same things. The federal government collects taxes, but so do most states, counties, and towns. Some of these taxes and rules about taxes aren't all that interesting, but some of them are actually pretty weird and fun to learn about.

  • New Mexico's Centenarian Tax Benefit: In New Mexico, people who are 100 years old or older don't have to pay any income tax, regardless of how much money they make.
  • Sliced Bagel Tax: In some states, including New York, Massachusetts, and California, the amount of tax you pay for a bagel depends on whether it's sliced. A whole bagel is not taxed, but if you slice it and put cream cheese on it, it's now considered to be a prepared sandwich, which is taxed.
  • California's Hidden Fruit Tax: If you buy fruit from a vending machine in California, you'll pay an extra 33% in tax. This is because the state treats fruit from vending machines as prepared food. Regular fruit from a grocery store shelf isn't taxed.
  • Illinois's Candy Tax Loophole: In Illinois, candy is taxed more than other food items, except for flour-based candy. This means that candy bars like Kit Kat and Twix, which have cookies in them, are taxed less than chocolate bars like Snickers and Milky Way.
  • Colorado's Coffee Cup Lid Tax: Non-essential packaging materials such as coffee cup lids, napkins, and straws have a 2.9% sales tax in Colorado. Cups are essential, though; those aren't taxed.
  • New Jersey's Pumpkin Tax: New Jersey has no tax on food products, but only pumpkins meant for human consumption count as food products. If you're buying pumpkins to make jack-o'-lanterns, they will be taxed.
  • Arkansas's Tattoo Tax: Getting a tattoo, a piercing, or electrolysis in Arkansas comes with a 6% tax.
  • Maine's Blueberry Tax: There's no tax on most foods in Maine, but wild blueberries are taxed at 1.5 cents per pound. Maine produces most of the wild blueberries grown and harvested in America.
  • Kansas's Amusement Tax: In Kansas, admission fees to entertainment venues such as movie theaters, bowling alleys, and golf courses are subject to a 6.5% sales tax. This also includes riding in a hot-air balloon that's tied down. But if you cut the ropes and float away, the balloon has become transportation, not an amusement, so it's tax-free.
  • Texas's Belt Buckle Tax: Most clothing isn't taxed in Texas, and that includes a belt that comes with a buckle. But if you buy just a belt buckle, without a belt, that's an accessory, not clothing, and you'll be taxed 6.25%.
  • Hawaii's Exceptional Tree Tax Deduction: Hawaii has a program that allows property owners to deduct up to $3,000 from their income tax for costs associated with the care and maintenance of "exceptional trees." The term "exceptional tree" refers to a tree that the state has designated as rare, distinctive, or of historical significance.
  • Florida's Pie Tax: In Florida, the sales tax on prepared food items sold at restaurants and grocery stores is 6%. But the tax doesn't extend to whole pies or cakes: They have to be sliced and served on plates to be taxed. That means that you can save money just by buying a whole pie or cake and cutting it yourself.
  • Mississippi's Salt Tax:Salt from land or water is taxed at 3% in Mississippi.
  • Indiana's Marshmallow Tax: In Indiana, there is a tax on marshmallows, which are considered to be candy. However, marshmallow cream is not taxed; it's considered to be a food product.
  • Maine's Clam Tax: In Maine, mahogany quahogs (clams) are taxed at $1.20 per bushel. Other types of clams aren't included.
  • Chicago's Fountain Soda Tax: Chicago imposes a 9% tax on fountain soda but only a 3% tax on canned soda.
  • North Dakota's Music Licensing Tax: If you sell the rights to perform a piece of music you wrote, you have to pay 5% of what you make to the state.
  • Special Activities Tax: Alcohol, cigarettes, gaming, gems, amusement devices, and laundry machines are some items and activities that are taxed in South Dakota.

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