I was reading something, somewhere about bizarre taxes or as my wife, Rosie, would claim, "all taxes are bizarre." In any event, I happen to notice that in one state you pay a special tax, above the usual sales tax, for buying a deck of cards. Yup. If you are in Alabama and you want a deck of playing cards, you'll pay an extra 10 cents because the good folk in Montgomery have levied a 10-cent tax on the purchase of a deck of playing cards that contain, get this, "no more than 54 cards." You get two jokers. That's it!
And should you be a winner in that card game you are running every Friday night (you listening, Otto?), then be prepared to pay a wagering tax in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois, and Oklahoma. Actually, the tax really has to do with casino gambling and it's usually levied on casino owners (like my friend Otto) who turn right around and pass it on to the customers through the cost of casino amusements. Yeah, I know, it does get a little silly. I mean, look at Chicago. If you go into, let's say an ice cream parlor that sells fountain soda drinks (for example, Mountain Dew in a glass), then you've got to pay a 9 percent tax. Of course, in the deli next door, you can reach into the big refrigerated case and pick up a can of the same beverage and your tax is only three percent. Don't ask me why. I don’t write these laws.
What is most interesting is that many of these taxes are not levied directly on you, the consumer. In a number of instances, they are levied on the owner of the business and that owner generally will find a way to get it into your pocket.
What I find especially amusing is one law on the books known simply as the "Jock Tax," which has to do with income earned by athletes and entertainers and the like. Some states simply call it that even though it's somewhat expanded. This means that any money a player or performer earns while performing in that city or state is subject to a tax. For instance, Cincinnati has a 2.1 percent jock tax.
Where did it all start? In California, where else? In 1991, California hit athletes from Chicago with the first jock tax. This followed the conclusion of the NBA championship when the Chicago Bulls beat the Los Angeles Lakers. Naturally, the Windy City came right back and slapped California athletes with the same tax when they played in Illinois. But, don’t cry Argentina. Most states with a professional sports team impose such a tax on the visitors. Heck, when Alex Rodriguez stepped onto the playing field at the All-Star game last July in Milwaukee, the crowd roared its approval…not simply because of Rodriguez but because, according to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, the baseball player had obligated himself to pay more than $8,000 in Wisconsin income taxes.
I'm raising all of this just in case you fall into any of these categories. Keep in mind that taxes are an integral part of financial planning. Hey, did I ever tell you about the Maine blueberry tax?
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