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Really weird and crazy U.S. state taxes and deductions


By Jamie Young/GOBankingRates

Despite the U.S. and its own quirks and complications, it can seem fairly normal when compared to other countries. Take taxes: Even when it comes to the most mundane of topics, our neighbors overseas can devise some truly bizarre charges and fine. For example, Ireland and Denmark tax cow flatulence by taxing cattle owners up to $110 per cow.

But it's not just distant foreigners who are coming up with strange tax laws, Americans are just as creative -- and ridiculous. If you think your federal taxes are confusing, don't forget just how bizarre some state taxes are, as well.

Click through to see the weirdest taxes states have charged and the strangest tax deductions some states offer.

This post was originally published by GOBankingRates.

​1. Alaska: Whaling captain deduction

Mark Higgins/iStockphoto

Whaling boat captains in Alaska can write off $10,000 for anything they spent on boat repair or other whaling expenses. This deduction is considered a charitable deduction, even though money is not being given directly to a charity. Don't get your hopes up about a new career as a whaling captain, though. The strangest thing about this deduction is that -- with the exception of Alaskan captains recognized by the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission -- whaling in the U.S. is completely illegal.

​2. Alabama: Playing card tax


Don't count on your Jokers to get you out of this one. Alabama charges a 10 cent tax on any pack of cards that contains 54 or fewer in the deck. The seller must also pay $1 and an annual license tax of $3.

​3. Arkansas: Tattoo tax


If you're into body art -- or even electrolysis -- in Arkansas, be prepared to pay extra sales tax. Though it's unlikely any rebellious teens got in trouble for coming home hairless, electrolysis treatments are taxed an extra 6 percent along with tattoos and body piercings.

​4. California: Vending machine fruit tax


If you buy fresh fruit from the grocery store or farmers market, you don't have to pay extra taxes on it. However, if you have a hankering for fruit from a vending machine, it will cost you -- a 33 percent tax to be exact. No one knows why this is or why anyone would want to buy fruit out of a vending machine in the first place, but in California that's the way it is.

​5. Colorado: Coffee cup lid tax


When you go to the coffee shop to get your morning fix, you probably take the lid for your coffee for granted. Not in Colorado, though. All nonessential packaging in Colorado is taxed an extra 2.9 percent. Your coffee cup is essential, sure, but the lid that goes on it is not.

​6. Hawaii: "Exceptional tree" deduction


If you have an "exceptional tree" growing on your Hawaiian front lawn, congratulations. You can write off up to $3,000 in qualified expenditures you made to maintain your triumphant timber. Now the only question is, how exactly does a tree become exceptional?

​7. Illinois: Candy tax

Daniel Carley/iStockphoto

What is candy exactly? According to Illinois lawmakers, there's a very specific definition. Whoppers? No. Lemon drops? Yes. Apparently, it all comes down to flour. If your sweet snack has no flour in it, it falls under the candy category -- and you'll pay a 5 percent higher sales tax on it.

​8. Kansas: Amusement tax


Although many states charge something called an Amusement Tax, this one takes the cake. If you're taking a hot-air balloon ride in the state of Kansas, it's considered transportation and tax-free. But if you want the security of staying tethered to the ground while in a hot-air balloon, that will cost you 6.5 percent since you're just there to be amused.

​9. Maine: Blueberry tax

Andreas Argirakis/iStockphoto

Maine's state berry is a blueberry and it's almost the sole provider of blueberries to all of the U.S. So, of course they charge an extra tax for anything related to the blueberry industry. This tax probably isn't going break your bank, but if you grow, purchase, sell, handle or process blueberries in the state of Maine, prepare to pay 1.5 cents per pound.

​10. Maryland: Flush Tax


In an attempt to protect the Chesapeake Bay, the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Restoration Fund in Maryland is supported by a $5 a month fee on sewer bills and an equivalent $60 annual fee on septic system owners. Flushing your toilet in Maryland is now twice as expensive as it used to be.

​11. Minnesota: Fur tax


Staying warm with a fur coat will apparently cost you big in Minnesota. If an item of clothing is comprised of three times more fur than the next most valuable material used to make it, businesses are required to pay a 6.5 percent tax on whatever they receive for the sale, shipping and other charges. And this extra cost in likely passed on to customers, as well.

​12. Nebraska: Dating tax


They're still working on this one, but Nebraska is looking to tax anything and everything in an attempt to generate more state revenue. Included in this list are garbage, bowling night, haircuts, clowns and -- that's right -- dating services.

​13. Nevada: Loud live music tax


Nevada businesses must pay a 5 to 10 percent sales tax on admissions, food, drink and merchandise to the state whenever there is live entertainment going on. However, if the entertainment is quiet and doesn't draw a lot of attention, these entertainment venues are off the hook. That's right, if you have a piano player just playing softly in your bar as background, there's no need. But be careful how much attention he's drawing or it'll cost you.

​14. New Mexico: Centenarian deduction


People who are nearing the age of 100 now have something to look forward to in New Mexico. Anyone 100 years old and older is exempt from income tax. They can't be claimed as a dependent, however. But, really, who's still working at 100?

​15. New York: Bagel tax

Stephanie Frey/iStockphoto

New York residents might want to switch to toast for breakfast. Any bagel that has been sliced or prepared with toppings, like cream cheese, is subject to an 8 percent sales tax. If it's whole, however, you can eat it tax free -- unless, that is, you eat it while you're still in the store, then it's also taxed.

​16. North Carolina: Pet tax


Local Durham County pet owners in North Carolina must list their pets as personal property and pay taxes on them. It's one more reason to spay and neuter: Cats or dogs aged four months and older will cost $10 if fixed, $75 if not.

​17. Pennsylvania: Air tax


Anything that comes out of a compressed air vending machine or vacuuming vending machine is subject to a sales and use tax. That's right, Pennsylvania taxes air.

​18. South Carolina: Charity meat deduction

Oliver Nowak/iStockphoto

You thought the act of giving was rewarding enough, but South Carolina wants to repay you further. Every deer carcass prepared by a licensed meat packer, butcher or processing plant you donate to charity results in a $50 tax deduction.

​19. Tennessee: Litigation tax

Andrey Popov/iStockphoto

Just to add insult to injury, a tax of up to $25 can be levied on residents involved in criminal and civil court proceedings. Juveniles are generally exempt, however.

​20. Texas: Belt buckle tax

Warren Price/iStockphoto

If you want to be a cowboy, or at least dress like one, there aren't any extra taxes on cowboy boots, hats or belts. But a belt buckle is another story. In Texas -- where they're quite predominant -- there is a 6.25 percent sales tax on belt buckles.

​21. Utah: Sex tax


In 2004, Utah legislature passed a 10 percent tax on admission and sales of merchandise, food, drink and services for sexually explicit businesses.

​22. Virginia: Sheep tax

Eric Isselée/iStockphoto

Just like Maine taxes its' state's blueberry industry, Virginia taxes every lamb and sheep sold in its state. The tax is pretty modest, but will cost you $0.50 per lamb or sheep sold in the state. It should be noted, however, that both of these Maine and Virginia taxes are there to help fund campaigns for the products being taxed.

​23. West Virginia: Sparkler tax

Rafael Classen/iStockphoto

Although fireworks are illegal in West Virginia, that doesn't stop people from celebrating with other devices. Sellers of sparklers and other novelties that emit showers, sparks or noise must pay an additional fee on top of the state's 6 percent sales tax. Keep that in mind if you're celebrating the Fourth of July in West Virginia this year.

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