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Weird Tax Laws You Never Knew Existed

Finance
Article
08/19/2015

Finding creative ways to raise money to tackle the nation's biggest priorities is no simple task. Taxes are always a hot topic and it's hard to get the majority of voters on board. To get taxes past the ballots and into legislature often means obscure language finds its way into the proposed tax description. This technical jargon can lead to some extremely odd taxes being enacted.

Have you heard of any of these weird tax laws?

  1. Washington State: The Evergreen state may have something in common with the town from the movie, "Footloose." As part of the amusement and recreation services tax law in Washington State, a business that offers customers the "opportunity to dance" shall be taxed.
  2. Nevada: Venues that provide instrumental or vocal music at low levels — meaning it does not interfere with casual conversation — can enjoy their entertainment tax-exempt. Venue owners that prefer their music with a bit more energy will be subject to Nevada's live entertainment tax.
  3. South Carolina: Butchers in South Carolina have ample opportunity to give back. According to the "venison for charity" program, butchers can receive tax credit for each carcass of deer meat donated to charity. The $50 tax credit applies to any licensed meat packer, butcher, or meat processor that wants to participate.
  4. Idaho: As of the year 2013, Idaho has announced that application software accessed over the internet or through wireless media is not taxable under the state sales and use tax — perhaps a great incentive for tech companies to begin migrating their headquarters north.
  5. Michigan: If you are buying a container, something to use for shipping and delivery as defined by the Michigan government, it may be wise to buy used. New containers are taxable, while "resale" containers are tax-exempt.
  6. Wisconsin The badger state is one of two states that bundles internet access under the telecommunication tax which means the internet is taxed for Wisconsin residents. This could be seen negatively for business owners who have no choice but to purchase internet access.
  7. Massachusetts: Next time you're shopping for work attire in Massachusetts remember sales tax depends on the price tag of the item you're buying. Clothing over $175 will be subject to tax, whereas anything under $175 is generally tax exempt.
  8. Maryland: Although the concept may prompt a chuckle, there is a "flush tax" imposed in Maryland for both businesses and residential properties. Maryland.gov states the fees assessed are determined by "daily flow" in gallons per day — no pun intended — meaning business owners may see hefty taxation if their restrooms are used often.

Whether you take the time to understand the tax laws in your state, or hire a professional to do the dirty work, you might be surprised by some of the weird tax laws, credits, and write-offs approved by state and federal governments.

 

This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. Paychex is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, Paychex. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.