If you buy a bagel in New York, prepare to pay a bit more to have it sliced.
New York imposes an 8 cent tax to all "altered" bagels, whether it is sliced, toasted or served with a "schmear" of cream cheese or butter.
"Cut bagels cross the line and become a prepared meal or food sold for on-premises consumption, which is taxable," explains Carla Yrjanson, vice president of tax research and content for Thomson Reuters. "Uncut bagels are typically sold for home consumption and would meet the definition of a (tax) exempt food in New York."
Tax revenue for states often stems from unusual laws in an effort to clearly define what goods or services can be taxed. Such taxes allow states to bring in extra revenue without raising taxes across the board, said Barbara Weltman, author of J.K. Lasser's Small Business Taxes 2013.
Among some of the more unusual:
Maine: Although it is one of the country's smallest states, Maine produces the nation's biggest blueberry output. The state collects $1.50 per 100 pounds of blueberries sold.
Utah: Businesses that hire nude or partially nude workers pay an extra 10% tax for all services sold. The tax, passed in 2004, targeted erotic dancing clubs and escort services, with the revenue allocated toward treatment services for sex offenders and funding for investigation of Internet crimes against children.
Kansas: There is an amusement tax for a ride in a tethered (attached to the ground) hot air balloon. Unattached balloon rides, however, qualify as transportation and are tax-exempt.
California: The state imposes a 33% tax on fruit bought from vending machines. It is cheaper, and perhaps healthier, to stick to the fruit aisle in the grocery store.
Arkansas: A 6% tax is charged for tattoos, body piercings and electrolysis.
Alabama: The state stacks on a 10 cent tax for all 54-or-less-card decks of playing cards sold. Nevada, on the other hand, dishes out a free deck for each tax return filed.
Illinois: It charges a 5% tax on candy, on top of the state's 1.0% food tax. The 5% tax exempts candy containing flour as a means of differentiating candy from food, says Susan Hofer, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Revenue. The tax was implemented in 2009, bringing in an additional $35-$41 million in revenue, she added.
Colorado: The state taxes retailers of food, meals or beverages a tax on"nonessential" food-related items, including napkins and bibs, utensils and straws. Paper cups and disposable containers are considered essential and are not taxed.
West Virginia: It imposes taxes on glow-worms, trick noisemakers and sparklers... a tax damper on a sparkling celebration.
Maryland: It charges homeowners and businesses a sewage tax, or "flush tax," of $2.50 a month.
Connecticut : Adult diapers go untaxed. Children's diapers, on the other hand, are taxed.
Sources: http://www.cpapracticeadvisor.com/news/10860541/weird-tax-law-changes-of-2012; http://thomsonreuters.com/content/press_room/tax/749330; http://www.efile.com/unusual-strange-funny-taxes-throughout-the-world-and-history/