The strangest state taxes in America

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
See Gallery
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.

(Portra via Getty Images)

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. 

Find Out: Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Own Taxes

(mediaphotos via Getty Images)

4. Illinois: Candy Tax

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.

(Stuart Snelling / EyeEm via Getty Images)

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.

(d9tech via Getty Images)

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.

(TheDman via Getty Images)

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.

(opreaistock via Getty Images)

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.

Related: Can I Claim My Boyfriend or Girlfriend on My Taxes?

(Kathrin Ziegler via Getty Images)


10. Nevada: Loud Live Music Tax

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.

(Elodie_Saracco via Getty Images)

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.

(Betsie Van Der Meer via Getty Images)

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. 

(tupungato via Getty Images)

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.

(utah778 via Getty Images)

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.

(Jena Cumbo via Getty Images)

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.

(i love images via Getty Images)

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.

(John Duncan / EyeEm via Getty Images)

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.

Up Next: 50 Tax Write-Offs You Don't Know About

Laira Martin and Casey Bond contributed to the reporting for this article.


Tax Tips for the Blind

Anyone whose field of vision falls at or below 20 degrees, who wears corrective glasses but whose vision is 20/200 or less in his best eye, or who has no eyesight at all, meets the legal definition of being blind and is eligible for certain tax deductions.

Read More

Brought to you by

What Is a 1099-G Tax Form?

The most common use of the 1099-G is to report unemployment compensation as well as any state or local income tax refunds you received that year.

Read More

Brought to you by

Video: What Are Itemized Tax Deductions?

Itemized tax deductions can help save you even more money during tax season if your deductions exceed the standard amount. Learn about itemizing your tax deductions with help from TurboTax in this video on annual tax filing.

Read More

Brought to you by

Filing Tax Form 2441: Child and Dependent Care Expenses

There are a number of eligibility requirements you must satisfy before potentially receiving a child or dependent care credit, so it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the rules before preparing Form 2441.

Read More

Brought to you by
Read Full Story
Your resource on tax filing
Tax season is here! Check out the Tax Center on AOL Finance for all the tips and tools you need to maximize your return.