As published in the Winter Park/Maitland Observer, Thursday Jan. 3, 2012 Edition Offers... Read More »
More Silly Taxes
William Baldwin of Forbes gives us some new ridiculous taxes:
Herewith, to give you a break from your Form 1040, is a catalog of the country’s looniest taxes. Hat tips to William Barrett, Norml, Ray Squitieri, Stephen Von Worley, Thomson Reuters One Source Tax & Accounting and TurboTax.
Arkansas: Body Piercing Tax
The state spells out which services are subject to the 6% state sales tax. Among them: body piercing, gutter cleaning and pet grooming.
California: Deals For Ottoman Empire Victims
If you were persecuted between 1915 and 1923, you get a tax exemption. If your troubles came in 1924 or later, however, there’s no break.
Hawaii: Deductions Grow on Trees
Grab a $3,000 deduction if your tree was approved by an arborist advisory committee and you get the right notarial stamp.
Maryland: Oyster Break
Maybe the clam and mussel people didn’t make sufficient campaign donations? The aquaculture float credit is available for people harvesting oysters, but not other shellfish.
New Jersey: Helping Families
You get a break if you spend more than $35.64 on family leave insurance. A $37 outlay on this worthy cause, for example, would land you $1.36.
New York: Haunted House Tax
Musical comedies, operas and chamber music are exempt from the sales tax. But not a Halloween show with music, if the admission charge exceeds 10 cents.
South Carolina: Aid For Deceased Deer
You get $50 off your taxes if your deer carcass helps the needy.
These are silly, but not as silly as these we wrote about last year:
Jonathan Rivers tells us about 13 Weird Taxes (And Tax Breaks) From Around the World.
Here are my 5 favorites:
In the Netherlands, citizens are apparently permitted to deduct the costs of training in the fine art of witchcraft.
In their article on the 5 Most Bizarre Tax Deductions From Around the World, Mint.com refers to Margarita Rongen as a “tax verified witch”, citing the Daily Mail’s report on how Rongen had successfully deducting thousands of dollars in schooling.
In Rongen’s case, “schooling” was a rather loose term, equating to courses “that are held 13 weekends a year closest to a full moon when outdoor rituals are practiced and potions boiled.” Among the many skills and aptitudes honed during witchcraft schooling are “healing with herbs and stones, making potions, divination and fortune telling with crystal balls and hieroglyphs.”
Needless to say, Dutch citizens and members of Parliament were none too amused. However, as Rongen points out, this seldom utilized deduction is not new – it is simply getting more attention, and now has the support of a judge.
Weird Baby Names
Until very recently, the Swedish Tax Authority had the power to decide whether the names parents chose for their children were acceptable – and forbid them from using names deemed to be “weird.” As Wikipedia states, the Swedish Tax Authority’s official take on the issue was that:
“First names shall not be approved if they can cause offense or can be supposed to cause discomfort for the one using it, or names which for some obvious reason are not suitable as a first name.”
While it isn’t a tax in the purest sense of the word, Sweden is likely the only nation in the world whose tax officials have the final say over what people’s names are.
Taxes on cow flatulence have been proposed in several European countries in recent years, including Ireland and Denmark. The Irish variant, which was ultimately defeated before it became law, called for a tax of $18 per animal, while Danish proposals were even more stringent, including levies “as high as $110 per cow” according to Fox News.
The outcries for these taxes came on the heels of a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization study claiming that 18% of the greenhouse gases believed to cause global warming can be traced back to the unsavory “byproducts” of livestock. The Danish Tax Commission took it even further, estimating that “a cow will emit four tons of methane a year in burps and flatulence” while an average car emits just 2.7 tons of carbon dioxide during the same period.
Cow flatulence taxes may sadly soon become the norm, rather than a comical anomaly.
For reasons that may never be fully explained or understood, the state of Alabama singles out decks of playing cards for a unique tax of its own, TurboTax reports.
CNN elaborates with more details, including the amount of the tax (10 cents), the criteria for determining which decks get taxed (those containing “no more than 54 cards”) and the taxes assessed on retailers themselves – “an annual license tax of $3 and a fee of $1.”
Little is known about the exact origins of this tax or its original purpose, but one suspects it is a remnant from a much earlier era that was simply never phased out in modern times.
Tax Exempt Sex Toys
While Italy has moved to heavily tax sex toys (among other pornographic products), MSNBC reported in 2006 that the Australian government had begun allowing “tax deductions for adult toys and lingerie.” While these deductions are restricted to prostitutes, strippers and dancers, the range of items they can deduct is quite broad, encompassing “condoms, lubricants, gels, oils [and a] myriad of other items.”
Interestingly, MSNBC elaborates that these same individuals cannot deduct the cost of fitness classes to stay in shape, though they can deduct dance classes specifically. A complete list of deductible items for “the sex industry” is made available and routinely updated by the Australian Taxation Office, for those interested in keeping up with the latest write-offs for professionals in this field.