“Quirky” Tax Laws: 2010

I thought only California was crazy.

The tax and accounting experts at Thomson Reuters have revealed "quirky" tax laws enacted in 2010.

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Here are the problems created by these taxes, and my proposed solutions.

Tax problem #1: Buckles and boots. In Texas, there's always a tax holiday on school supplies and clothing during back-to-school season. Belts are tax-free, but belt buckles are not. Cowboy and hiking boots are exempt, rubber boots and climbing boots aren't.

Solution: use a rope belt and just put plastic wrap over your cowboy boots when it's raining.

Tax problem #2: Candy without flour. Washington state in June made candy without flour taxable. "Rainbow Whirly Pops" and "Lemon Drops" are taxable, "Twizzlers" aren't.

Solution: the problem solved itself. The public protested along with "the powerful big candy interests," and the tax was repealed earlier this month. "The law caused so much confusion," says Thomson Reuters.

Tax problem #3: Cups v. lids. Colorado passed a law this year allowing taxes on "non-essential" packaging for purchased foods and beverages. Cups are "essential" and are not taxed. Lids are "non-essential" and subject to tax.

Solution: take your scalding cup of coffee without a lid into the state legislature and bump into your representative. I think we'll learn the lid is essential.

Tax problem#4: Is a hot air balloon an airplane or an amusement ride? Kansas debated taxing hot air balloon rides. Entertainment is taxable in that state, but local jurisdictions are not allowed to tax airlines or "other airport users". The state decided that an untethered balloon "would be considered carrying passengers in air commerce" and couldn't be taxed. Tethered balloons are another matter.

Year-End Investing Tax Tips  -  A CNBC Special Report
Year-End Investing Tax Tips  -  A CNBC Special Report

Solution: move to another state. How stupid is this?

Tax problem #5: Bagels feeling schmeared in New York. "If you buy a whole bagel and take it home with you, it is exempt from tax," reports Thomson Reuters' tax experts. "However, if you purchase that same bagel, but eat it at the bagel shop...bagel shops must charge sales tax on the purchase price." This adds 8-9 cents to your average bagel.

Solution: say the bagel is to go, then go sit down and eat it in the shop.

Tax problem #6: A new sort of death tax. This one is also from New York, where admissions to haunted houses are subject to tax.

Solution: die, and get in for free.

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