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Strange Taxes

Previously, I’d thought that Steven Forbes was on to something. Wouldn’t a flat tax be easier to administer, provide faster cash for our communities and really hold our legislators accountable? I’m still leaning that way, but……there is something to be said about bipartisan cooperation that can produce meaningful legislative code like some of the items below.

Let’s head towards Memphis. In Tennessee, there is a tax on all litigation. It’s prorated, but the intent is to prevent or discourage frivolous lawsuits. OK, seems reasonable. But in 2005, Tennessee also began requiring drug dealers to pay taxes anonymously on illegal substances they sold. I have a question. How do you audit a felon whom you suspect is not being honest about their dishonest sales?  Hmmm….a little bit further west now, to Arkansas.

In Arkansas, body piercings, pet grooming and gutter cleaning are subject to a 6% sales tax. I understand that it’s a service industry tax, but when it comes to gutters, the tax may actually prohibit the cleaning from taking place. And what about the downspouts? Is that another drain on the wallet? (see if you can locate the pun)

Before we cross the Rockies, South Carolina offers a $50 deduction if your deer carcass helps the needy. How is that verified? Is there a proof-of-carcass form that needs filled out?  What documentation is required? Do people need the dough that bad?

In New Mexico, people over 100 years old are tax-exempt, but only if they are not dependents. In an apparent attempt to resemble the Japanese culture and honor the elderly, New Mexico knows how to reward those that have lived healthy. If I was in a position of authority there, my only concern would be the influx of 99-year-olds looking to avoid taxes.

In Oregon, double amputees get a $50 tax credit. Part of me is interested in how/why this started, and the other part is asking “Can we bump it up to $75?”
Silly tax laws are not limited to just the United States.

In 1795, England put a tax on the aromatic powders that men and women put on their wigs. This led to a dramatic decline in the popularity of wigs. Thank goodness. There’s zero chance I’d pay for wearing someone else’s hair.

In 1885 Canada created the Chinese Head Tax, which taxed the entry of Chinese immigrants into Canada. The tax lasted until 1923 when a law was passed banning Chinese people from entering Canada altogether with a few exceptions. Exceptions? What could they be, unless it was just another way of getting a head?

On second thought, let’s go back to that Steve Forbes idea.

Mark Schuster, Partner

* For more silly tax rules, visit these articles:  efile Forbes

March 2, 2015








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