Will they never end?
From the News-Worth-Repeating Dept.
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – You know taxes are a fact of life, or, as Oliver Wendell Holmes put it, "the price we pay for civilization."
But some of the things we're taxed on can seem oddly random, if not downright bizarre.
In certain states and cities, you'll pay special taxes for buying a deck of cards, possessing illegal drugs and possibly buying things from those in the buff. The taxes aren't always levied directly on you but on the owner of a business you patronize. But businesses often find ways to pass that added cost onto customers.
Straight from the "Go figure" files, here are just 10 peculiar state and local taxes we found, courtesy of information from tax information publisher CCH, Inc. and the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit tax policy research group that advocates tax simplification measures.
Illegal drug tax: At least 11 states, including Alabama, North Carolina and Nevada, tax people who possess illegal drugs. Usually, though, you have to be in possession of a minimum quantity (for example, over 42.5 grams of marijuana in North Carolina) to be subject to the tax.
Sex sales tax: Sin is getting pricier in Utah. Starting in July, owners of sexually explicit businesses where "nude or partially nude individuals perform any service" must pay a 10 percent sales and use tax on admission and user fees as well as the sales of merchandise, food, drink and services.
'Jock' tax: Some cities and states levy taxes on the income earned by athletes, entertainers (OK, not just jocks) and their various entourages, including non-athletic or non-performer employees. Generally, that means any money earned by a player or performer while playing in that particular city or state gets taxed. For instance, Cincinnati levies a 2.1 percent jock tax.
Sparkler and novelties tax: In West Virginia, businesses selling sparklers and novelties are subject to a special fee. So customers in the mood for July 4 festivities may get hit with that on top of the state's 6 percent sales tax.
Playing card tax: If you want a deck of cards in the state of Alabama, be prepared to shell out an extra dime. The state government has levied a 10-cent tax on the purchase of a playing deck that contains "no more than 54 cards". If you object to this, get your playing cards in a different state, or buy a deck with an extra joker.
Blueberry tax: Like fresh, wild blueberries? If they come from Maine, you may be paying a bit of a premium due to a tax imposed on those in the blueberry business. Anyone who grows, purchases, sells, handles or processes the fruit in the state is subject to a three-quarter-cent-per-pound tax.
Wagering tax: Speaking of cards – and bets, most people know they have to pay tax on their gambling winnings. But in some places you may have to pay the price of a wagering tax, whether you gamble or not. The wagering tax is levied in a number of states, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois and Oklahoma. It's typically levied on casino or track owners but can get passed onto customers through the cost of casino amusements.
Fur clothing tax: Minnesota winters are cold, and keeping warm can cost you if you like fur. That's because businesses in the state must pay a 6.5 percent tax on the total amount received for the sale, shipping and finance charges associated with the purchase of fur clothing in which the fur accounts for three times more of the garment than the next most valuable material.
Fountain soda drink tax: This one hails from Chicago. If you buy a "fountain soda drink" – think Pepsi in a cup or glass – you'll pay a 9 percent tax. If you buy the same soda in a bottle or a can, you'll only pay 3 percent.
Amusement tax: Ever wondered about the extra tax you pay on stadium seats? That's the amusement tax, often levied at both city and state levels. Most states, including Massachusetts, Virginia and Maryland, and cities like New Orleans, have amusement taxes on tickets sold at any venue with more than 750 to 1,000 seats.
Amusing, isn't it?