Strangest taxes in America
Don't toast your bagel if you don't want to be taxed. (Photo: Atlantide Phototravel/Corbis)
Although taxes are one of life’s certainties, they can still surprise you.
Consider the iconic New York bagel: decide to have yours toasted, and it’ll come with a tax. The rationale is that sliced bagels are usually consumed on a café’s or store’s premises—and restaurant meals are taxed, whereas groceries (like a dozen unsliced bagels) are not.
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Sliced Bagel Tax, New York
Bagels are a New York institution, but not all are taxed equally. Order yours cut in half or request it toasted or topped with cream cheese, and you’ll pay about 8 cents extra. Sliced bagels are usually consumed on a café or store’s premises—and in many states, restaurant meals are taxed, whereas groceries are not. (A loaf of sliced bread at a bakery comes tax free.)
Blueberry Tax, Maine
(Photo: Ted Horowitz/Corbis)
In Maine, blueberries are big business: the Vacationland State produces 99 percent of our nation’s blueberries, averaging 80 to 85 million pounds per year. If you enjoy some this summer, count on being taxed. Anyone “growing, handling, processing, selling, or purchasing” the famous export must pay up, according to Maine’s state legislature.
Playing Card Tax, Alabama
(Photo: Zero Creatives/cultura/Corbis)
While you can bet you’ll be taxed on gambling in many states, Alabama takes a particularly hard line. Buy a deck of playing cards—even for innocuous reasons like keeping the family amused on a road trip—and it comes with a tax of 10 cents per pack. If you consider the tax unjustified, here’s some perspective: sellers pay an additional $1 per pack. On second thought, however, that cost probably gets passed right on to you.