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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Unusual U.S. taxes

weird taxes
Some tax laws were enacted for different times
Ever since taxes have existed in America, the ability of municipalities, states and the federal government to legislate revenue earning mechanisms has been a reality. Such being the case, several unusual taxes have emerged out of legislative entities. 

While the following taxes arguably fall short of the absurdity levied in a 14th century British existence tax, they are nevertheless quite odd and possibly inefficient ways to levy the public.

Sliced bagel tax

For bagel lovers living in New York, beware of the sliced bagel tax. This tax only applies to sliced bagels according to the Wall Street Journal. Moreover, while there is some logic to taxing services, a loaf of bread that is sliced is not taxable. This strange tax adds up to somewhere between .05-.15 cents for not using a knife to self-slice.

Haunted house tax

For tour companies contemplating a haunted house business in New York, be prepared to pay a tax that would not be charged for alternate tours both in New York and other states. According to Forbes magazine, the haunted house tax only applies to tours that cost more than .10 cents and that also play music. Since Halloween only occurs once a year, a tour tax that operates year round and even seasonally would be more likely to raise a higher amount of revenue.

Playing card tax

According to the Alabama Department of Revenue, there is a .10 cent tax on each pack of paying cards; this is a seperate tax from sales tax. This history of playing cards taxes dates back to a time when playing card stamp taxes were common. Playing card pack levies have been repealed at the federal level, but are still on the books in Alabama. However, if more than 54 cards are included in the deck, no tax applies.

Illegal drug tax  

In Tennessee illegal drug dealers are required by law to pay tax on the proceeds of their drug sales. This includes $3.50 per gram of Marijuana and $250 per gram of crack per the Charles Koch Institute. Enforcing this tax might fall along similar lines to collection of income tax from illegal workers. In both cases criminals are trusting a federal government agency with documented information about their illegal activities.

Amusement ride tax

For individuals thinking of going on a ride in Kansas, a hot air balloon might be a better deal. This is because of a tethered balloons rides are taxed per ABC News. Moreover, the distinguishing factor is transportation, which is not taxed the same way. Since rides are limited to a geographic space, they are subject to the amusement ride tax.

The reasons why many of the above taxes are strange or odd is because they do not seem conventional or practical. Granted tax code gets complicated and sometimes obscure laws fall by the wayside as legislators focus on more pressing issues. Nevertheless, these taxes are silly because they target specific industries in an impractical way, which can easily be avoided or are difficult to enforce.

Images: Calita Kabir; CC BY-S.A. 2.0