Despite America's quirks, it can seem fairly normal when compared with other countries. Take taxes, for example: Even when it comes to the most mundane of topics, countries overseas can devise some truly bizarre charges and fines. For example, Ireland and Denmark tax cow flatulence by taxing cattle owners up to $110 per cow.
But it's not just distant foreigners who are coming up with strange tax laws; Americans are just as creative — and ridiculous. While you search for federal tax loopholes that can save you money, watch out for bizarre state taxes that could be affecting your budget, as well. Click through to see the weirdest taxes states around.
The strangest state taxes in the US
The strangest state taxes in the US
1. Arkansas: Tattoo Tax
If you're into body art — or even electrolysis — be prepared to pay extra sales tax in Arkansas. Though it's unlikely any rebellious teens got in trouble for coming home without body hair, electrolysis treatments are taxed an extra 6 percent along with tattoos and body piercings.
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2. California: Vending Machine Fruit Tax
If you buy fresh fruit from the grocery store or farmers market, you don't have to pay extra taxes on it. However, if you have a hankering for fruit from a vending machine, it will cost you — a 33 percent tax to be exact. It's unclear why this is — or why anyone would want to buy fruit out of a vending machine in the first place — but in California, that's the way it is.
3. Colorado: Coffee Cup Lid Tax
When you go to the coffee shop to get your morning fix, you probably take the lid for your coffee for granted. Not in Colorado, though. All nonessential packaging in Colorado is taxed an extra 2.9 percent. Your coffee cup is essential, sure, but the lid that goes on it is not. Extra taxes are also charged on stir sticks, cup sleeves and straws.
What is candy, exactly? According to Illinois lawmakers, there's a very specific definition. Whoppers? No. Lemon drops? Yes. Apparently, it all comes down to flour. If your sweet snack has no flour in it, it falls under the candy category, which comes with a 6.25 percent higher sales tax on it.
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5. Kansas: Amusement Tax
Although many states charge something called an Amusement Tax, this one takes the cake. If you're taking a hot-air balloon ride in the state of Kansas, it's considered transportation and tax-free. But if you want the security of staying tethered to the ground while in a hot-air balloon, that will cost you 6.5 percent since you're just there to be amused. When you're tethered to the ground, you are, unlike Dorothy, very much still in Kansas — and it'll cost you.
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6. Maine: Blueberry Tax
Maine’s state berry is the blueberry and Maine is almost the sole provider of blueberries to all of the U.S. So they charge an extra tax for anything related to the blueberry industry. This tax probably isn't going break your bank, but if you grow, purchase, sell, handle or process blueberries in the state of Maine, prepare to pay 1.5 cents per pound.
7. Maryland: Flush Tax
In an attempt to protect the Chesapeake Bay, the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Restoration Fund in Maryland is supported by a $5 monthly fee on sewer bills and an equivalent $60 annual fee on septic system owners. Flushing your toilet in Maryland is now twice as expensive as it used to be.
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8. Minnesota: Fur Tax
Looking good and staying warm will apparently cost you big in Minnesota. If fur is your preferred winter coat material, you'll be subject to a 6.8 percent sales tax on not just the fur itself, but also the shipping and transportation of it.
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9. Nebraska: Dating Tax
They're still working on this one, but Nebraska is looking to tax anything and everything in an attempt to generate more state revenue. Included in this list are garbage, haircuts, clowns, funeral services and — that's right — dating services.
Nevada businesses must pay a 5 to 10 percent sales tax on admissions, food, drink and merchandise to the state whenever there is live entertainment going on. This can include everything from animal stunt performances to comedy and magic. Uncompensated, short performances, however, are tax-free — so you can sing your heart out, for free.
11. New York: Bagel Tax
New York residents might want to switch to toast for breakfast. Any bagel that has been sliced or prepared with toppings, like cream cheese or lox, is subject to an 8.87 percent sales tax. If it's whole or sliced without toppings or spread, however, you can eat it tax-free — unless, that is, you eat it while you're still in the store; then you'll also be charged tax.
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12. North Carolina: Pet Tax
Locals in Durham County, N.C. have to claim their pets as personal property and pay taxes on both cats and dogs. It's one more reason to spay and neuter: Cats or dogs age four months and older can cost as much as $7 if fixed, but as much as $25 if not.
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13. Pennsylvania: Air Tax
Anything that comes out of compressed air vending machine or vacuuming vending machine is subject to a sales and use tax. That's right, Pennsylvania taxes air. Vending machines located on schools or church property, however, are exempt.
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14. Tennessee: Litigation Tax
Just to add insult to injury, a tax of up to $25 can be levied on residents involved in criminal and civil court proceedings. Juveniles are generally exempt, however.
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15. Texas: Belt Buckle Tax
If you want to be a cowboy, or at least dress like one, there aren't any extra taxes on cowboy boots, hats or belts. But a belt buckle is another story. In Texas — where they're quite popular — there's a 6.25 percent sales tax on belt buckles because they're not considered clothes. If you're willing to wait, you can buy your belt buckle tax-free on the state's annual sales tax holidays.
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16. Utah: Sex Tax
Utah residents aren't exactly known for their inhibitions, but this tax was fought hard. In 2004, Utah legislature passed a 10 percent tax on admission and sales of merchandise, food, drink and services for sexually explicit businesses including those with nude or partially nude people.
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17. Virginia: Sheep Tax
Just like Maine taxes the blueberry industry, Virginia taxes every lamb and sheep sold in its state. The tax is pretty modest but will cost you $0.50 per lamb or sheep sold in the state. It should be noted, however, that both of these Maine and Virginia taxes are there to help fund campaigns for the products being taxed.
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18. West Virginia: Sparkler Tax
Although fireworks are illegal in West Virginia, that doesn't stop people from celebrating with other devices. Sellers of sparklers and other novelties that emit showers, sparks or noise must pay an additional $15 registration fee on top of the state's 6 percent sales tax. Keep that in mind if you're celebrating the Independence Day in West Virginia this year.