Start your workday off with a chuckle today and take a look at these strange state tax laws. From fruit in vending machines to splitting hairs with bagels, here are seven of the funniest tax laws in the United States.
1. A Hidden Alcohol Tax in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, you might notice purchasing alcohol will cost you more and it dates back to something a little unexpected — a flood. Back in the 1800s, a devastating flood took the lives of almost 2,000 citizens in Johnstown, a city east of Pittsburgh. Then, in the 1930s, another flood caused extensive damage in the same area. To help the city rebuild, the state imposed a tax on alcohol with the funds going straight to help Johnstown. By the 1940s, the money had helped the city recover from the flood. The tax was supposed to be temporary but the state still has the 18% tax to this day and it brings in millions of dollars of revenue annually.
2. Being a Centurion Pays Off in New Mexico
If you live in New Mexico, be sure to stay healthy and stay away from dangerous activities because here, living to your 100th birthday brings more than just bragging rights — it exempts you from paying state income tax. So long as you’re a 100-year-old resident who isn’t someone’s dependent, you qualify for no more state income taxes.
3. Bagels Are More Expensive in New York
Bagel shops are on every corner in New York and are quite a popular breakfast meal. But, did you know if you purchase one in the state, you’re paying 8 cents extra if you get it sliced? Yep, since 2010, New Yorkers have been paying the bagel-slicing tax and they don’t seem too happy about it either — there’s even a petition on Change.org to ax the 8-cent charge. If you want to avoid the tax, just buy a whole bagel and cut it yourself.
4. Be Careful Where You Buy Fruit in California
If you visit the Golden State and find yourself in the mood for some fruit, be sure to grab some at the grocery store and don’t buy the apple you see in the vending machine. In California, fruit is only taxed when it’s in a vending machine. So, skip the 33% sales tax from the vending machine and grab a tax-free banana from the store instead.
5. Save Up for Tattoos in Arkansas
If you’re thinking about getting inked up, you’ll have to budget 6% more if you live in Arkansas, considering the state imposes a tax on tattoos, body piercings and laser hair removal services.
6. Watch Out for Maine's Blueberry Tax
When one thinks of Maine, usually lobster and other seafood comes to mind, but did you know the state is actually America’s Maine distributor of blueberries? To raise funds for research on the fruit, anyone who grows, buys, sells, handles or processes blueberries is subject to a tax of 1.5 cents per pound.
7. Ditch the Starbursts in Illinois
If you find yourself in Illinois with a sweet tooth, consider checking the ingredient list on whatever candy you pick — it might just change the price. The state charges a 6.25% tax for candy, but only those made without flour. So, when you’re driving through Illinois, skip the starbursts and grab a Twix instead — you'll only pay a 1% food tax this way.
Have you ever heard of these odd tax laws? Tell us which one surprised you the most, or share a funny one from your state in the comments below. Want to read more funny tax laws? Be sure to follow Canopy's twitter and subscribe to our blog for updates.