Many local economies are hurting these days, and state governments are looking for any way they can nickel-and-dime residents. While having your take-home pay eaten up by taxes is no joke, some of the tax laws created to get a little more of your money are admittedly pretty funny (some would say just plain laughable).
Below are 10 of the strangest local taxes by state. Are you one of the taxpayers contributing?
1. Alabama: Playing Card Tax. Anyone who purchases or sells a deck of cards in the state of Alabama is subject to a tax. Buyers spend an extra 10 cents per deck, while sellers pay a $1 fee, plus a $3 annual license. UNO fans can rejoice, however, because this state tax only applies to decks of 54 cards or fewer.
2. Arkansas: Tattoo Tax. Don't make your appointment to get that tribal armband just yet. Arkansas residents should know that in 2005, the state began charging a 6 percent tax on tattoo and body piercing services. Electrolysis treatments also qualify to be taxed under this law, so going hairless in Arkansas will cost you extra, along with getting inked or pierced.
3. California: Vending Machine Fruit Tax. Californians have developed a reputation for maintaining fit lifestyles, and one of the many perks for those following a healthy diet is that fresh fruit is exempt from sales tax in this state. That is, unless it's purchased from a vending machine. It's a mystery as to why anyone would want to get their questionably fresh fruit from a machine, especially considering it's taxed at 33 percent of the price.
4. Illinois: Candy Tax. At first, a tax on candy sales may not seem so odd. After all, we pay taxes on things like cigarettes and canned beverages without a second thought. However, it's the way this tax is exercised that's so darn strange.
According to Illinois lawmakers, the definition of "candy" is specifically tied into the absence of flour. You, like most, people would consider Whoppers to be candy, right? In Illinois, those malted milk balls contain flour, which means they are purchased and taxed as a regular food item. A package of lemon drops, on the other hand, lack flour as an ingredient and will come with a 5 percent higher sales tax than traditional food (for a total tax of 6.25 percent).
5. Maine: Blueberry Tax. Here's a fun fact: Maine's official state berry is the wild blueberry. Maine also produces 99 percent of the wild blueberries in the United States. It's no wonder, then, that the state of Maine chose to implement a blueberry tax for anyone who grows, purchases, sells, handles, or processes blueberries. This tax is meant to fund research efforts that keep Maine competitive among other states and provinces in Canada that produce the berries.
6. Maryland: Flush Tax. In an attempt to protect the Chesapeake Bay, the state of Maryland began taxing residents who generate wastewater. This amounts to a monthly charge of $2.50, or $30 annual fee for septic system owners, which supports the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Restoration Fund.
7. Minnesota: Fur Coat Tax. The purchase of a fur coat--or any other piece of apparel made of fur--may cost you extra in Minnesota. Businesses are required to pay a 6.5 percent tax on whatever they make on the sale--including shipping and handling--of any clothing item comprised of three times more fur than the next most valuable material used to make it. You can bet that gets passed down to the customer.
8. New York: Bagel Tax. Who knew eating a bagel for breakfast could be so complicated? A bagel that has been sliced or prepared with a topping (like cream cheese) is subject to a tax in New York. However, if you think buying it whole, sans toppings, will get you out of paying extra, think again. Eating your bagel in the store where you bought it will also be subject to the tax. To avoid paying an extra 8 cents on your morning meal, take it home to slice and eat it.
9. Pennsylvania: Air Tax. Again with the vending machines! You probably think a state tax on air has to be a joke, but it's a real thing in Pennsylvania. Purchase of any item that comes out of a vacuuming vending machine or compressed air vending machine is subject to a sales tax in this state. So perhaps the air itself isn't taxed, but close enough.
10. Utah: Sex Tax. When you think of Utah, does adult entertainment come to mind? Probably not, but this state felt it would be able to make some money by charging a sales tax on certain adult "services." Business owners who employ "nude or partially nude individuals" can expect to pay a 10 percent tax on said services.
Casey Bond is editor-in-chief of www.GoBankingRates.com, which provides readers informative personal finance and investing content, as well as the best interest rates on financial services nationwide.
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