Taxing Times to Make You Crazy

Get your tax refund yet?

You’re probably thankful for whatever you received. But you may want to rethink that – check out my column on loaning Uncle Sam money as to why.

It’s certainly no surprise that Uncle Sam has a lot of practice reaching into your wallet for taxes. What you may not realize is how crafty local governments are getting at doing the same. In these taxing times, here are a couple that really stand out and could have you thinking: what a waste of my money!

- Poker, anyone? There's a bit of a magic trick here -- it’s Alabama’s sleight of hand called the Playing Card tax.  Alabama taxes decks of cards bought within the state and retailers are hit, too, for selling them.

- The next is what you could call a royal flush -- straight down the toilet. There's $2.50 a month on Maryland water users bills, supposedly to clean up wastewater in the bay. But since that problem doesn’t really add to the pollution there, the point seems to be more to add a bit of nonsense to the tax code and help fill the coffers.

- In Chicago, things are often sticky, this one in particular. Here, a candy tax used to sweeten the budget; in the Windy City, you get charged 6.25% for buying candy, an increase from the usual 1% food sales tax. But it’s applied only to candy not prepared with flour, such as lemondrops and hard candies. Chocoholics can take heart -- candy made with flour, like Kit-Kats and Whoppers, is considered food and taxed at just 1%.

- If all this stresses you out, don’t go to New Jersey to relax. A massage there will cost you extra. A special tax on massage services for several years is just one of the measures to deal with tense budget talks there.

- Of course, for every crazy tax, there’s a doozy of a deduction. Perhaps the most famous? The exotic dancer named Chesty Love who was allowed to take a tax writeoff for her breast implants because her new 20 pound breasts were viewed as a “stage prop”.

You can’t make this stuff up! But then, that’s true in general when it comes to taxes these days, isn’t it?