States Look to Tax Bowling, Funerals & More


If you thought you had enough taxes to worry about, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

States across the country are pushing a series of new taxes on everything from haircuts to garbage pickups in a desperate attempt to make up for serious budget shortfalls.  Nebraska legislators are considering taxes on shoe shines and scooter repairs, Kentucky democrats are proposing taxes on limousine services and hot air balloon rides and Maine will be voting in a few months on whether to tax clowns.

According to the New York Times, the two states considering the most extreme taxes are Pennsylvania and Michigan. The latter is debating whether to start taxing more than 100 new services including pedicures and concert tickets (the state currently taxes 26 services.) Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s governor has proposed taxes on accounting and advertising services, sectors which are clearly less frivolous than, say, the hot air balloon industry.

“Look, I’m not a crazy tax guy,” Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania said in an interview with the Times. “I know what we’ve cut the last two years, and I know how deep and painful the cuts have been. So I know that in the future there’s going to have to be a revenue increase, and this is the best of the alternatives, obviously none of which we’re happy about.”

These taxes may sound absurd and unlikely to pass, but many states already have some bizarre taxes on the books. The Times reports that over half the states currently have a tax on bowling and tuxedo rentals, and a handful already tax dating services and haircuts.

Check out MainStreet’s coverage of other extreme steps that state governments are taking to make up for budget shortfalls.

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