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17 Craziest Sales Tax Facts [Tweetable]

State sales tax laws can get downright kooky. Yet even when these laws address complex and seemingly quirky issues, like the taxability of sliced versus unsliced bagels, the onus remains on the business to follow the rules. In order to alert you to some of the stranger state sales tax stories and laws--and hopefully to make you smile--we have gathered a list of some of the craziest state sales tax laws ever.

Each is presented as a compact fact with a Tweetable link. Share your favorites on Twitter. Just don't change the facts :) Enjoy! And if we missed any, let us know in the comments.


Tax Facts: Grab Bag



  1. Cars sold to blind veterans in Arkansas are exempt from sales and use tax #lifeexpectancy
    source: Arkansas legal code


  2. Pennsylvania DOR ruled that air from the atmosphere was taxable. Breathe easy! It was overruled
    source: Pennsylvania court ruling


  3. In Alabama prescription drugs are tax exempt for humans but not for animals #sorryfido
    source: taxrates.com


  4. Clothing is tax exempt in Pennsylvania, but not formal wear like opera capes and wing collars
    source: Pennsylvania legal code


  5. Colorado: you can have same ZIP code but different sales tax rate as the house next door #grassisgreener
    source: salestax.avalara.com


  6. Hawaii: expenses for care of "exceptional" trees are exempt from sales tax, up to 3K #moneygrowsontrees
    source: Hawaii government


Tax Facts: Food and Drink



  1. Colorado exempts cups from sales tax, but not straws and lids #thelaststraw
    source: Colorado government


  2. Maine has a “blueberry tax” of ¾ cents per pound of fresh wild blue berries #berrytaxing
    source: Maine legislature


  3. Texas: Until 2003, purchases of 5 donuts or less were tax exempt, but 6 or more were not #weightwatchers
    source: Texas Comptroller (link 1, link 2)


  4. California allows the military to purchase alcohol without paying sales tax #draftbeer
    source: California legal code (section 32177.5)


  5. In Indiana marshmallow crème is exempt from sales tax, but marshmallows are not #cremedelacreme
    source: avalara.com


  6. If you order a bagel to go in New York it’s tax free, unless it is sliced for you #governmentcuts
    source: New York Division of Taxation


Tax Facts: Crime and Punishment



  1. California posts the top 500 sales tax delinquents on their website to shame them into compliance
    source: taxrates.com


  2. Maryland had a “fake tax auditor” problem #mantiteo
    source: Maryland Comptroller


  3. New Hampshire doesn't have sales tax. This didn't stop scammers from selling fake “sales tax certificates"
    source: taxrates.com


  4. Texas business uses the state's own tax rate calculator, gets wrong rate #doasidonotasisay
    source: taxrates.com


  5. Twenty-one states require Illegal drug dealers to pay sales tax on their illegal drugs
    source: norml.org


Special thanks to the knowledgable accounting professionals of the LinkedIn group, Sales Tax Connection, for their crazy tax facts suggestions (many of which made it into this list).

Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Avalara Author
Will Frei
Avalara Author Will Frei
Will Frei directs social media and blogging for @avalara. He is on a mission to help make sales tax less taxing for businesses of all kinds.