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Top 10 Most Unusual Sales Tax Laws for 2004

Contributed by mm | April 4, 2004 6:34 AM PST

WebCPA compiled this funny list of unusual sales tax laws:

10. In Ohio, a gift basket of fruit or candy isn't subject to sales tax, as the "true object sought is the food items contained within," not the basket. However, a lead crystal candy dish full of candy would be fully taxable, since the dish is considered a decorative container.

9. In Connecticut, the sale of a pumpkin in its "natural grown state" is exempt from sales tax because it is considered a food product. However, if the pumpkin is sold after being painted, its "primary purpose" becomes decoration and is subject to sales tax.

8. In Washington, crushed, shaved or cubed ice isn't taxable, but blocks of ice are.

7. Up until 2003 in Texas, donuts and other individual-sized bakery items sold in quantities of 5 or less were taxable. They are now exempt.

6. Antacids are exempt in Connecticut, but are taxable once one you cross the border into Massachusetts.

5. In Minnesota, cough drops are taxable as "candy."

4. In California, fresh fruit is exempt, but an apple purchased through a vending machine is taxable on 33 percent of the price.

3. In Minnesota, massage therapy provided by a licensed masseuse is subject to the state sales tax unless the massage is for the treatment of an "illness, injury or disease," in which case it is tax-exempt.

2. In Texas, "intravenous systems, supplies and replacement parts" are tax-exempt when used in the treatment of humans, but taxable when used in the treatment of animals.

1. In Wisconsin, cloth diapers are exempt, but disposable baby diapers are taxable.

As Kerry M. Kerstetter correctly noted in his Tax Guru-Ker$tetter Letter, if we cannot devise an easy way to synchronize our sales tax systems in 7,500 jurisdictions across the country, it is virtually impossible to require Internet-based merchants to assess sales tax.

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