21 of the Most Unbelievable State Tax Laws in America

When it comes to taxes, you might think it’s all about income, sales, and property. However, some U.S. states have decided to get creative. Here are 18 bizarre state tax laws in America.

California Fruit and Veg Tax

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If you buy fresh fruit or vegetables in California, you’re typically safe. But add a peel-back wrapper, and it becomes taxable. The law aims to distinguish between unprocessed foods, which are tax-free to encourage healthy eating and processed or prepared foods, which are not. Who knew convenience could come at such a cost?

Illinois Candy Tax

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In Illinois, candy is taxed differently based on its ingredients. If it contains flour, it’s considered food and is taxed at 1%. But if it doesn’t contain flour, it is classed as candy and taxed at 6.25%. That means a Kit Kat with flour costs less than a Hershey’s bar without flour. Time to check those labels. 

Maine Blueberry Tax

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Maine takes pride in its blueberries, so much so that they have a specific tax on them. If you’re growing or selling more than 1,000 pounds of blueberries a year, you owe a tax of 1.5 cents per pound. Blueberry business is serious business in Maine.

Arkansas Tattoo Tax

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Thinking about getting some ink in Arkansas? Prepare to pay extra. The state imposes a 6% sales tax on all body art, including tattoos, piercings, and electrolysis. This tax can make a significant difference, especially for those opting for larger, more intricate designs or multiple sessions. It’s the price of beauty.

Alabama Playing Card Tax

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Buying a deck of cards in Alabama? There’s a special 10-cent tax on any deck containing 54 or fewer cards. Whether you’re a poker player or a magician, you’ll have to pay a little extra to play your hand.

New York Bagel Tax

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New Yorkers love their bagels, but they come with a twist. If you buy a sliced bagel or one with cream cheese, you’ll pay sales tax. But an unsliced bagel without cream cheese is tax-free. This means your morning routine of grabbing a quick bagel and schmear could cost you a bit more than anticipated.

Minnesota Fur Coat Tax

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In Minnesota, there’s a specific tax on fur clothing. If you’re buying clothing made from real fur, it’s subject to a 6.875% tax. But faux fur? No extra charge. When shopping for your next winter wardrobe in Minnesota, consider if you need that genuine fur or if a faux fur piece will keep you just as warm without the extra tax.

Pennsylvania Airplane-Towed Banner Tax

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Advertising in the skies over Pennsylvania? There’s a tax for that. If you tow an advertising banner behind an airplane, you’re subject to a 6% tax on the service. Looks like sky-high promotions come with sky-high taxes.

Tennessee Illegal Drug Tax

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This one might sound unbelievable, but Tennessee has a tax on illegal drugs. Yes, you read that right. Dealers are supposed to buy tax stamps for their contraband. Of course, compliance might be an issue.

Nevada Casino Tax

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Nevada is known for its casinos, and the state offers tax incentives to keep the industry booming. Slot machine revenue is taxed at different rates depending on how much the casino earns, with lower rates for higher earnings.

New Jersey Pumpkin Tax

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In New Jersey, pumpkins are taxed differently based on their intended use. If you buy a pumpkin for eating, no sales tax. But if it’s meant for decoration, like a jack-o’-lantern, you’ll pay sales tax.

Maryland Flush Tax

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Maryland has a tax on flushing your toilet. It’s officially called the Bay Restoration Fee and is aimed at improving the state’s wastewater treatment systems. So every flush helps save the Chesapeake Bay, albeit at a cost.

Wisconsin Internet Access Tax

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Though federal law prevents states from taxing Internet access, Wisconsin managed to preserve an existing tax. Residents pay a small tax on their Internet service, making their online experience just a bit more expensive.

Kentucky Horse Riding Tax

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In Kentucky, home of the Kentucky Derby, there’s a specific tax on horse race winnings. If you win big at the track, you’ll owe a state tax on your earnings. Better factor that into your betting strategy.

Massachusetts Mystery Meals Tax

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In Massachusetts, if you’re ordering takeout food, it might be taxed differently based on how it’s prepared. Heated foods are taxed, while cold foods aren’t unless they’re meant to be eaten as a meal right away.

Washington Syrup Tax

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Washington state imposes a tax on syrup, specifically the kind used in soda fountains. It’s designed to offset the health impacts of sugary drinks, adding a sweet little tax to your soda enjoyment.

Florida Rent Tax

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In Florida, commercial leases are subject to a sales tax, making it one of the few states to tax commercial rent. Businesses renting office or retail space need to budget for this extra expense.

Vermont Wine Tax

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Vermont loves its craft beer, but wine drinkers face a bit of extra cost. The state imposes a higher excise tax on wine than on beer, making that glass of Chardonnay a little pricier.

Missouri Bingo Tax

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Missouri taxes bingo games, with proceeds going to education and veteran services. So, when you’re shouting “Bingo” you’re also supporting a good cause, albeit with a bit of a tax hit.

Indiana Magazine Subscription Tax

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In Indiana, magazine subscriptions are subject to sales tax, making your reading habit just a bit more expensive. Whether it’s the latest fashion tips or tech news, you’ll pay a little extra to stay informed.

Ohio Nude Performance Tax

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In Ohio, there’s an adult entertainment tax on establishments that feature nude or semi-nude performances. This tax is 6% on admissions and sales, so patrons pay a bit more for their evening entertainment.

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Amy Watkins

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