Slideshow The worst places to have fun

Published
  • May 29 2018, 8:05pm EDT
7 Images Total

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There are a few states that are well-known for their attitudes towards good times – Nevada and Louisiana spring to mind – but there are dozens more that take a less encouraging approach, and one of the ways they do that is with so-called “sin taxes” that single out activities and products like alcohol and cigarettes.

As part of its weekly “Tax Maps” feature, independent tax policy nonprofit The Tax Foundation ranks states by their tax rates in various areas, making it easy to figure out which states are the worst ones to drink, smoke and otherwise sin in.

Brewers' nightmares

Some of the highest beer taxes are in the Southeast -- particularly in Tennessee, which is more of a whiskey sort of state, anyway -- but Alaska and Hawaii add some diversity.

Wyoming, on the other hand, barely touches the stuff, at just 2 cents a gallon, with twin beer producers Missouri and Wisconsin close behind at 6 cents per gallon each.

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Spiritless in Seattle

The Pacific Northwest puts some pretty swingeing taxes on spirits, while Wyoming and New Hampshire don't tax them at all. The next lowest are Missouri ($2) and Colorado, at $2.47.

Money to burn

Small wonder that cigarette smuggling is so ubiquitous -- the state taxes range from a high of $4.35 down to a low of just 17 cents in Missouri (leaving aside the federal levy of $1.0066 cents).

The other states where it's cheapest to light up are Virginia (30 cents), Georgia (37 cents), and North Dakota (44 cents), and the average state tax is $1.70 per pack.

Next: A tax on snacks

Alaska is the only state that taxes marijuana that isn't shown, because it doesn't tax as a percent, but at $50 an ounce. California also has a cultivation tax per ounce of flowers and on leaves, in addition to its 15 percent sales tax. Colorado's tax is split evenly between sales and excise, while Nevada has a 10 percent sales tax and a 15 percent excise tax. All the other states have pure sales taxes.

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The vaping levy

Many municipalities have taxes on vapor products, but relatively few states do -- and those that do take one of two forms: as a percent of wholesale, shown here, or by the milliliter, led by West Virginia, at 7.5 cents per ML, and in Kansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina, all at 5 cents per ML.

A share of the take

Lotteries benefit many states twice, first with their share of the take before the prizes are given out, and then from taxing the winner's income. California and Delaware don't tax lottery winnings, though, and seven other states don't tax income.