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Pretty soon they’re going to start taxing taxes (some of the strangest tax laws on the books)

January 25, 2010

Being a resident of southern California, I’m used to paying exorbitant taxes for everything.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s the price I pay for more sunny days.  (In a bit of irony, when I was half done with this post I lost power for two hours and internet service for two days because of a massive thunderstorm and couple small tornados.  It also explains the length of time between posts.  But hey, it’s only one day out of 365, so I’ll take it.  OK, back on topic…)  But every year there are more and more taxes added to those I already pay.  All this while we have record budget shortfalls and furlough days for state employees.  Unfortunately, we’re not the only ones.  The governor of New York recently proposed adding $1 extra tax per pack of cigarettes.    

$20 more than yesterday

The feds and states seem like they’re just going to keep taxing us while spending out the kazoo.  I think California should just legalize marijuana and tax it.  I don’t smoke it, but I don’t really have a problem with it.  Imagine how much tax revenue that would bring in to the state.  Not to mention the relief on prison population.  With each inmate costing the state $50,000 per year, that’s quite a savings.  So there would be more income and less expenses.  Isn’t that how you’re supposed to run a business?  So that’s my suggestion.  Anyhoo, some places have really strange (and inane) taxes on things to try to raise revenue.  Here are some of them.   

Take-out tax   

In Washington D.C., it will cost you more to get your McMuffin from the drive through window than it would if you went inside.  Why?  Because any food that is considered “take-out” is hit with a little extra tax.  The city says that it goes to pay for the extra clean up for the trash thrown out car windows and such.   

Here you go. Now you'll be obese and overtaxed at the same time!

It might not be such a bad idea, though.  If you tax it high enough maybe it will entice people to get out of their cars and walk into the restaurant to help work off a couple of those 1,500 calories they’re about to consume.   

Porn Tax   

Yes, there is a state that adds a 10% tax on anything considered sexually explicit.  I’ll give you a chance to guess which state it is…    

If you take the fur off, is it still taxed?

Ok, times up.  If you said Florida, you’re wrong, but it was a good guess.  It’s Utah.  And the fact that it’s Utah makes me wonder what they consider sexually explicit.  I would hate to pay an extra 10% the next time I buy a Sims game because of the chance to woo-hoo.   

Soda fountain tax   

Coca-Cola is my lifeline.  I practically survive on the stuff.  So I have to remember the next time I’m in Illinois to forego the Big Gulp and get it in a can.   

What all soda fountains should look like

Why?  Because if I buy it in the can or bottle, I pay a 3% tax.  If I buy it from the fountain, the tax goes to a whopping 9%.  I like it a little better out of the fountain than out of the can, but I’m not quite sure if it’s 6% better.   

Jack-o-Lantern tax   

If you live in Iowa, Halloween is more expensive than most places.  You see, they have a law on the books that taxes pumpkins sold to be on display, but exempts pumpkins purchased for consumption. 

No attempt at a witty caption here. I just thought it was awesome.

I couldn’t find anything pertaining to how they enforce this.  It seems like it would cost more to enforce it than the money coming in.  And what happens when you carve a pumpkin for Halloween and then roast the seeds to eat?  There seems to be a lot ways to interpret this one.   

Tattoo tax   

If you get drunk in Arkansas some night and wake up with a tattoo, you paid 6% more for it than in any other state.   The tax also applies to piercings, causing some people to support the state budget by themselves.   

Paid for fiscal 2007

I’m not sure what the state of Arkansas has against tattoos and piercings.  My theory is that the governor’s daughter rebelled and it resulted in sweeping  tax reform.   

Blueberry tax   

I like blueberry muffins.  Apparently, they’re a little more expensive to make in Maine.  The tax is relevant for “anyone who grows, purchases, sells, handles, or processes the fruit in the state” and adds a tax of 3/4 of a cent per pound.   

The state of Maine hates these

My only question is why pick on the blueberry?  It’s such a helpless little fruit.  Why not tax apples or oranges?   I would assume there’s a lot more of those sold as well. 

Illicit drug tax   

There are currently over 20 states that have some sort of tax on illegal drugs.  The idea is that dealers can come in to pay the tax without worrying about self incrimination.  Does it work?  Not really.  Most of the income from this tax comes when the states bill people after they are arrested for possession with intent. They weigh the amount of drugs found during the arrest and levy taxes plus penalties against the accused.  

This is the stamp for Massachusetts. Seriously.

This just sounds crazy.  Do they really think dealers are going to walk in some government building and say “I have 20 pounds of heroin ready to go.  What’s my bill for that?”  Right.  They even have stamps for the guys to put on their product to prove that the taxes were paid.  Insane.  


So all those are pretty bad, right?  And those are just a couple of the ones currently on the books in America.  there are taxes that were imposed throughout history that were even worse.  Here are a few of them.  

The immigrant tax  

In 1885, Canada decided they wanted to make money off people looking for a better life, so they started imposing an extra tax against all residents from China.   

You, you, you, you ,you, you, and you... pay up. You other two are free to go.

This tax was in place for over 50 years.  It wasn’t until the Chinese Immigration Act was passed that the tax was lifted.  And the only reason the tax was lifted was because the Act prohibited any more Chinese from entering the country.  

The glass tax  

Instituted in 18th century England, the “window tax” applied to any structure with more than six windows.   

Get out your checkbook...

It caused many people to brick up some of their windows to avoid paying the tax.  

The beard tax  

Tsar Peter I was very interested in keeping his country well groomed.  To assist this, he taxed every man (except clergy) who had facial hair.  The longer the facial hair, the higher the tax.  

No word on whether monks who were also troublemakers had to pay the tax

Rumor has it there is a similar law currently in effect in Massachusetts, but I couldn’t find any proof of that.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Heidi permalink
    January 25, 2010 11:28 am

    If only the beard tax existed in Portland! The hair to face ratio would improve greatly!

  2. etony permalink
    January 26, 2010 4:48 pm

    When they start taxing me for using the InterWebs, I’m in trouble.

    Ps-California essentially already does have a de facto legalized marijuana law, and they do tax it. You’d have to be, like, Lance Armstrong-healthy not to be able to get a medical prescription for it.

    “Doc, I just can’t seem to sllep at night.”

    “I’m depressed”

    “I have anxiety”

    “My hemarhoids are a pain in the ass”


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