When a person supports their state or country by flying its colors, are they supporting their state with taxes? Flags are probably not an everyday purchase for most people. Generally, there’s a long span of time between when you buy a flag and the day you have to burn it, or at least are supposed to burn it according to proper etiquette. Most likely you will end up putting it somewhere in an attic because, honestly, lighting emblems on fire can be an uncomfortable task.

So how do states tax Old Glory? In many states*, specific exemptions are provided for the American flag. Retailers in these states should be careful to only apply this exemption to actual flags. Items with the flag on them, like bows, banners, and decorations don’t qualify for the exemption (the same is true for garden flags). While the word “flag” may conjure up an image of Francis Scott Key lauding the stars and stripes in battle, items labeled flag in your inventory may well be large yellow warnings to non-Steelers fans about the reception they’ll get should they enter the wrong garden. Unfortunately for Steelers fans, these are not exempt either.

Exemptions are also provided for state flags in a number of places in addition to POW and military service flags.** With Memorial Day approaching, it’s a good idea to double check that you’re taxing these items correctly.

*Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and West Virginia

**Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island

photo credit: Micky** via photopin cc