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The Best Things in Life? Two Cents an Ounce

A creative new tax plan has been announced shortly in advance of income tax time this year. Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter is proposing the nation’s highest tax on sodas and sweetened beverages. The taxable rate would be two cents an ounce, or thirty-two cents for a sixteen ounce drink bottle.

Shockingly, the Pennsylvania Beverage Association came out against this policy. Nutter’s idea will face its share of resistance, but if passed it would be far from the most extreme state tax on the books already.

Like in West Virginia, where holiday festivities are a bit costlier than they are in New Jersey. An extra tax is levied there on sparklers and other novelties used for celebrating Independence Day, according to

Holidays are more expensive in Texas too. They tax holiday tree decoration services, only if the decorator supplies the ornaments. Also taxed on holidays are phone calls from holiday characters, and greeting cards which feature Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

Over in Kentucky, race horse breeding is celebrated, but buyers should remember to include the animal’s sales tax with their purchase. And it’s cheaper to die in Ohio because it’s tax-free to apply makeup in a mortuary. But receiving the makeup in a beauty salon would be taxable.

Nutter’s Philly tax idea has a name, Healthy Philadelphia Initiative. The mayor has budget gaps to fill, but $20 million of the proposed income would go to new programs which will promote exercise and healthy eating. I’m not sure exactly who was responsible for another unusual Pennsylvania tax. They tax coin-operated vacuum vending machines that you use at car washes. That’s right; they tax the use of air.

Not to be outdone, New Jersey charges for the air used from air compressors to fill tires. And of course, the privilege of using the air at many of our beaches comes with a charge in the form of a beach tag. Then after you’re done on the beach in South Jersey, you might want to venture to the boardwalk and sample the many flavors at a nearby oxygen bar.

Nutter’s idea may have some merit, especially if encourages residents to exercise and eat better foods. But In California, fresh fruit is taxed if it is purchased from a vending machine based on thirty-three percent of its price.

Yes, once again we realize the best things in life are not free. There may be something special in the air, but it’s going to cost you.



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