Top Bizarre Tax Laws by State

August 2, 2010 | By: TaxCure Staff

strange-tax-lawsAs everyone is painfully aware, taxes are not going anywhere and are only on the rise. It seems like nothing is safe from taxes these days, from playing cards to illegal drugs, U.S. states have certainly gotten creative when it comes to collecting fees from taxpayers. Scroll through the list below to see if your state makes the cut for some of the strangest tax laws- it turns out, they’re all guilty!

  • Alabama: If you are purchasing a deck of playing cards here be prepared to cough up an extra 10 cents as the state zoned in on this perfect taxing opportunity. Even retailers are held to the tax and are forced to pay a $3 annual license tax in addition to a $1 fee.
  • Maine: Administrators here are clearly strong believers in the saying, ‘every penny counts.’ Blueberries came under fire in this state. Here, for every pound of blueberries one purchases, sells, processes or grows they are subject to pay a penny and a half.
  • Illinois: It looks like Chicago is to blame for this backward tax. If you are visiting this windy city you may want to avoid fountain soda as the city applies a 9% tax on fountain soda and yet only a 3% tax if you purchase it in a bottle or can.
  • Maryland: In 2004 this state issued a so-called, ‘flush’ tax that charged residents an extra $2.50 a month for sewer bills and a yearly fee of $30 for owners with their own septic systems.
  • Nebraska: Here, dating is not only stressful but expensive! The state government is set to earn a mere $44 billion in 2011 alone by taxing dating services.
  • Utah: In 2004, Utah issued a 10% tax on the owners of sexually explicit businesses; particularly ones based around performance acts and services.
  • West Virginia: Here, retailers offering sparklers and other novelty items found themselves subject to a 6% tax. According to the state, this specialty tax includes anything from sparklers to, “explosive caps designed to be fired in toy pistols; snake and glow worms and trick noisemakers which produce a small report designed to surprise the user.”
  • Minnesota: The state of Minnesota took advantage of its cooler climate and implemented a 6.5% tax on the revenue that businesses incur from fur sales. This includes even online sales and shipping as well.
  • Tennessee and North Carolina: These two states along with other states impose a tax on illegal drugs. While each state applies this bizarre law differently, in Tennessee, anyone who purchases an illegal drug must report it to the Department of Revenue within 48 hours and pay a tax. In return, you are given tax stamps to prove that you paid. Even though you are not obligated to release your name or other identification when reporting the tax it is no surprise that very few people experience this process. The real profits from this tax come from those who are caught with illegal drugs which are then subject to the fee. Within the first 15 years of implementing this tax, North Carolina was able to generate $78.3 million this way.

It looks like the United States is not the only country to use its imagination when creating tax laws. Check out a few unusual tax rules from around the world:

  • Russia: Peter the Great once targeted beards in his taxes. But do not take it personally as he also went after souls, basements, and beehives.
  • London: Any Royal Navy ships that enter into the Port of London are required to pay a barrel of rum in tax to none other than the Constable of the Tower of London.
  • The Netherlands: In this country, even classes on witchcraft are tax-deductible.