The Civil War may have ended in 1865, but it is still a part of Alabama life, if only in tax form. Alabamans are required to pay a Confederate veterans tax, even though the last survivors of the war died decades ago. The tax used to go towards running the Alabama Confederate Hospital, but that closed 80 years ago, so instead the funds go towards maintaining the Confederate Memorial Park in Mountain Creek. The tax reportedly brings in $400,000 (£311,190) in revenue annually, so the park is one of the best maintained public facilities in the state.
Alaskan whaling boat captains enjoy a generous $10,000 allowance to right off anything they spend on boat repair or whaling expenses. The only downside to this generous deduction offer is that there has been no whaling in Alaska since around the 1920s and it was made illegal around the world in 1986 (though some native groups recognised by the Alaska Eskimo Whaling commission have special exemptions).
Property developers in the Sunshine State have been known to take advantage of a tax loophole designed to protect farmland. The so-called greenbelt statute taxes farmland at an exceptionally low rate, in order to protect it. Property developers or big corporations like Disney, have been known to rent cows and fence them in some out of the way corner of the property to benefit from the lower tax rate. The law dates back to 1959 when orange groves were being paved over to make way for strip-malls, but there is no sensible explanation as to why it still stands today.
Hawaii prides itself in its lush landscape and natural beauty. It should therefore come as no surprise that the state has enacted several laws designed to protect its natural beauty. That’s why Hawaiian homeowners who have one of more “exceptional trees” in their property have the right to deduct up to $3,000 (£2,329) per tree for any cost associated with the maintenance and well-being of the tree. In case you’re wondering, a qualified local arborist advisory committee must certify your tree as exceptional before you can file deductions.
Kansas has emerged as something of a hotspot for hot air ballooning, and it’s not because of its scenic landscape or adventurous locals. It’s because Kansas taxes "any place providing amusement, entertainment or recreation services" including hot air balloons, but that law contradicts a federal law which bans state governments from imposing fees on airlines or air carriers. That means Kansas had to create a tax exemption for hot air balloons when they are not tethered to the ground (and therefore flying somewhere) as they qualify as an air carrier, but if they are tied to the ground and stay tied, they are classed as recreation because their occupants aren’t going anywhere.
Kentucky is a rural state, and as such its agribusiness is a major employer in area. The horse industry is huge and contributed over $3billion (£2.34m) to the state’s economy last year, through racing, buying and selling, tourism and breeding. A major portion of this income is derived from the 6% sales tax the state of Kentucky slaps on thoroughbred stud breeding. So if you have a stud and would love to capitalise on its assets, it’ll cost you, but the cash raised goes to multiple funds used to incentivize horse breeding operations.
Blueberries have surged in popularity in recent years since being classified as a superfood. The state of Maine produces 99% of the country’s wild blueberries all on its own. Mainers are so fond of these little blue gems that they’re the official state berry. It’s therefore not a complete surprise that the little berries are taxed. The state collects 1.5 cents per pound of wild unprocessed blueberries sold in Maine. It is for a good cause though, as the funds go towards research into the promotion and conservations of the wild blueberry industry.
Over 40% of all Americans will carve at least one pumpkin at Halloween, according to some estimates. Because so many see this seasonal tradition is nothing but a bit of fun, Jerseyite state officials thought it should be taxed. New Jersey employs a sales tax exemption for food and groceries, and tax officials thought that while the pumpkins could be considered food, they were really home decorations and should be subject to sales tax. If you can prove your pumpkin is for eating rather than carving, you can have it tax free.
Just as Mainers are proud of their blueberries, Virginians are proud of their sheep. But unlike Maine’s thriving wild blueberry market, Virginia seems to only do a modest sheep trade. But that doesn’t stop local government from levying a $0.50 tax on every sheep or ewe sold in the state. The sheep tax raises only around $8,000 a year which goes directly to the Sheep Industry Board, who use the cash to run a program for the “promotion and economic development of the sheep industry”, so it’s all for a good cause then, sort of.