Friday, April 15, 2011

Merry Taxmas! Happy Taxivus! The Top 5 Insane Taxes We Are Forced to Pay

As the week winds down to the big climax of Tax Day 2011, leftists are getting in the holiday spirit. They can be heard humming their favorite holiday tunes (“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”? “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Tax Day”?) as their excitement mounts over what Obama Claus will put under the Tax Tree for all the good little Boxers and Franks. Who’s on his naughty list? Let’s just say bad boy Paul Ryan won’t be getting any holiday goodies in his Tax Day stocking.

Oh, wait. He wouldn’t have a Tax Day stocking, because nobody in their right mind is actually celebrating April 15. (Though, this year taxes are actually due this Monday on April 18. Go figure.)

But it does seem like a good time to take stock of the most foolish and in some cases insane ways the Left employs crass political gamesmanship in stealing our money. After all, they need a whole lot of it to satisfy their insatiable hunger for government spending, and feeding this beast requires annoying us with taxes at every turn.

First up: Sales taxes on stuff you didn’t even buy

5. California (surprise!) cell phone tax

Your old cell phone has seen better days and so it’s with a spring in your step that you head over to your local cell provider store, knowing that you have FINALLY reached the date on which you can upgrade to the new slick super-duper state-of-the-art touchscreen smartphone. Even better – your cell provider is offering the latest/greatest phone for a song, so long as you re-up your service contract. No worries there – you like the service and don’t plan on switching.

So you buy your new $500 phone – but you only pay, say, $100. At the state sales tax rate of 8.25% (higher for those unfortunate enough to live in cities that tack on even more), you’ll pay an additional $8.25 in taxes. Ah, well. Anyway, you can’t wait to get home and start playing with all the nifty features and apps on your new device!

Whoa, there, intrepid cell phone buyer. Hold on a minute. You’re in California! Here in the Golden State, Governor Moonbeam and his kind, who are not dealing in reality, think that you should not be dealing in it either. So we’re going to PRETEND that you actually paid the full $500 for that phone. Which means your add-on tax will be $41.25, thank you very much – nearly half of what you actually paid for the phone.

This has been an actual true story. Had this been just an example of a true story, I would have more money in my bank account right this minute. And, my blood pressure would be lower.

Next: Vacationing won’t lower that blood pressure…

4. Vacation (or business travel) taxes

So, I found a great deal on a rent-a-car for the weekend. Sure, it’s a peanut-sized vehicle which will risk the life of everyone foolish enough to get inside and hurtle down L.A. freeways, but the price is right – $12 a day!

Whoa, there, intrepid car renter. Hold on a minute. There’s the little matter of some taxes and “fees” to be added to that price which will nudge it up, just a wee bit. Surely not half again as much, like in our cell phone story, right?

Of course not! Try more than double. That’s right! The real per-day price of my rental car, after the airport tax, tourism tax, facility tax, state tax, and vehicle license fee recovery tax (?) is a whopping $25.39. Meaning my 3-day weekend wheels which I thought would run me around $36 will instead inch a whole lot closer to $80. And the rental car website has the chutzpah to say this, right under my “grand total”:
“Additional surcharges, local taxes, etc. may apply.”
Additional? What more could they add? WTF, as the kids say.

But hey. At least I can relax when I get to my hotel. I booked a sweet deal online for a swanky place – I saved up so I could stay at this resort and I got a killer deal… just $200 a night.

Whoa, there, intrepid hotel visitor. Hold on a minute. There’s the little matter of the “tax recovery and service charge” tax. Uh, what? Anyway, it pops that bill up to close to $240 a night, so all of a sudden my two nights in the hotel are a $500 proposition, not $400.

I don’t know about you, but adding an extra $150 onto my weekend in nickel-and-dime taxes does not put me in a festive, relaxing mood. One fellow traveler, on the road all the time for business purposes, expressed it somewhat colorfully:
“I am so sick of these BOHICA (Bend Over Here It Comes Again) tax policies that stick it to the business traveler who has no option but to travel, no matter what the cost. I hate these totalitarian bastards that continue to have their way with our wallets. More than 200 years ago, a few guys got a bit rowdy over taxes far less than what we are raped for nowadays. Yet most people barely notice they’ve been robbed.”
She’s right. Most of us just look at the total, heave a forlorn sigh, and hand over our credit card.

Next: What’s that you’re eating, fatty?

Do as we say, not as we devour

3. Food “sin” taxes

So-called sin taxes are a way for Big Brother (or Big Mama Obama) to express profound disapproval for your poor choice-making skills, and in effect spank you for being a bad boy or girl. (You know, the irony here is that the Left, with all its libertine living, is the first to get on board the “let’s tax the snot out of that bad/immoral/dangerous behavior” train. Unless the bad/immoral/dangerous behavior involves the SEIU, or aborting babies. Then it’s okay. Go figure.)

Let’s start with taxes that gladden the heart of the aforementioned Big Mama (I mean the First Nanny Lady). In her hometown of Chicago, all that windy weather might make you thirsty. Well, heaven forbid you stop somewhere for a (gasp!) soda pop. If you must drink that toxin (Makes you fat! Bad for teeth! Probably makes you dumber!), at least buy it in a can (3% tax) and take it home to enjoy in guilty solitude. Because if you buy a fountain drink, the tax on it is nearly 10%.

Want fries with that? I think not. Because: Makes you fat! Bad for heart! Probably makes you dumber! And especially if you’re still in Chicago, which is one of a number of cities where you pay an extra tax for take-out food.

So skip the fries and grab a candy bar. Not so fast, would-be sugar fiend! Still in Illinois? Okay. Check your candy and see if it contains flour (Twix, Butterfinger, and Kit-Kats qualify). Illinois says candy, which has an extra sales tax of up to 6.25 percent, is “any sugar-based product not requiring refrigeration or containing flour.” So if you’re breaking off a piece of that Kit-Kat bar, SCORE! The insanity is not limited to Illinois. In Kentucky, a Milky Way is a cheap choice, but the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup – well, that’ll cost ya.

Enough about what goes in. Surely they can’t tax what comes out.

Why… turns out they can.

Maryland has a flush tax. You read that right. Households that flush (isn’t that everyone?) get a tax added to their monthly water bill. That extra tax has collected more than $150 million for the state environmental department, so they can take “action on climate change.” See, here’s how it works: You poo, and they piss away your money! Very symbiotic, no?

Next: Sex and drugs and rock & roll and…

2. Sin taxes your mother would approve of

Well, not if she’s a good libertarian, perhaps. But it does boggle the mind how far politicians will go to pick your pocket. Like, they’ll follow you right into the strip club. If you’re in Utah or Texas, anyway (they have strip clubs in Utah and Texas?). In Utah, any business where someone appears nude or partially nude pays a 10% sales and use tax on admission, merchandise, food, drink and “services.” Texas has a strip club “pole tax” that charges an extra $5 in admission for pervs patrons who wish to enjoy some “dancing.” The state Supreme Court is still deciding whether that infringes freedom of expression, but the state has collected millions already.

Maybe you’re not into the whole strip club scene – gambling’s more your style. Well, even if it’s just a friendly game of poker around the kitchen table, someone’s going to get some tax money out of it, at least in Alabama. Lawmakers there tax any purchase of a deck of (evil?) playing cards – an extra dime. Talk about nickel-and-diming us to death. However, this tax only applies to decks containing no more than 54 cards. A 55-card deck is tax-free. Yahoo!

Neither sex nor gambling your vice? Maybe you’re into the wicked art of body manipulation. Clearly we can’t allow that to go on without soaking someone for extra bucks. So if you really must have a giant butterfly tattooed above your fanny… or you simply cannot go on without a stud embedded in the side of your nose… just don’t do it in Arkansas. (Wait – that advice probably has a much, much wider application than just tattoo parlors, come to think of it.) Anyway, in Bill Clinton’s home state, tattoos and piercings will pierce you for an additional 6% sales tax.

Hey, you with the fake bake! You think you’re getting off scot-free? Not if Obamacare has anything to say about it (AND IT DOES). Taxing Tanning salons now charge an additional 10% tax that’s expected to raise close to $3 billion over the next decade. Now, right there’s a reason for celebrity tanners like George Hamilton and Lisa Rinna to immediately enlist in the repeal fight.

Next: Perhaps the dumbest tax ever conceived in the long and rich history of dumb taxes

1. Illegal drug tax

I know. Wrap your brain around that one for a minute. We’ll come back to it.

It’s difficult to win the coveted “dumbest tax” award. You have some seriously stiff competition. We’ve already covered quite a few of the contenders, and we haven’t even touched on some of New York’s finest taxes, like the extra levies on haunted houses, or bagels (wanna eat at the bagel shop? That costs extra). Fun is taxed in Kansas and West Virginia (hot air balloon rides and sparklers, respectively). Professional athletes have to pay tax for money they earn during away games in at least 20 states (you beat the Lakers in L.A., and you will pay – you will pay Jerry Brown, that is).

Good grief, the New York City Fire Department proposed charging a $500 “crash tax” to anyone involved in an accident that required emergency response. That’s assuming you survived, I guess. If you don’t, that’s when King County in Seattle gets you. They now charge $50 to REPORT a death. If you don’t pay, you can’t get the paperwork needed for a burial. Kinda gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “death and taxes.”

But for pure, unadulterated imbecility, nothing compares with the government’s attempt to dislodge tax money from illegal drug transactions. In several states, you are supposed to drop by your local tax collection office and pay the tax on your illegal drugs ahead of time. They will give you a stamp that you can attach to your container of illegal drugs (the amount of tax you pay, of course, depends on the size of your stash). Anyway, don’t worry your little head for one second that you will get arrested at the tax office, no sirree! It’s illegal for tax authorities to report you to those other, mean authorities. Should those meanies get you, however, your stamp will prove that you are a law-abiding taxpayer! Or… er… well, I’m not sure what it proves.

The feds are just as dumb when it comes to taxes. IRS tax guidelines at one point say, “…illegal income, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, must be included in your income on Form 1040, line 21.” There you go, scummy drug dealer. A little free tax advice from me. You’re welcome.

Taxes are serious business, of course. In the future I hope to bring you some lists of the most outrageous taxes that really are crushing our quality of life. But this nickel-and-diming stuff, the taxes that are thought up by legislators who seem to be completely daft – they have a way, when added up, of crushing the spirit. That would be the Spirit of Liberty, who is down but not out. She’s gearing up (after Obama’s latest raise-taxes, tax-the-rich speech) for another fight against the Spirit of Tax Day Past, Tax Day Present… and especially Tax Day Future. God bless us, everyone!

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