the-taxiesWe all know our government is strapped for money.

But you probably haven’t heard about some of the really bizarre new taxes people have started paying recently.

So we’ve decided to honor America’s fiscal creativity with our first “Oddball Tax Award”—given for the most outlandish new tax that anyone has come up with this past year.

Here, without further ado, are the nominees and winners in the 2012 “Oddball Tax Awards”:

Alabama, for taxing any deck of playing cards that has less than 54 cards

Connecticut, for deciding to tax children’s diapers, but not adult ones


Arkansas, for a breakthrough new tax on tattoos and body-piercings

Maryland, for taxing a bottle of your own wine you bring into a restaurant

The Runner-up: New York, for its exciting “Bagel Alteration Tax”—a tax of 8 cents on every bagel that is “altered,” which means that if the man behind the deli counter cuts your bagel and adds a schmear, you pay an extra tax. Uncut bagels, however, are tax-free. Go figure.

And our 2012 Winner: the Great State of Utah, which now has levied a 10-percent tax on the fees collected by nude or partially nude workers. (“Excuse me, ma’am, I’m from the IRS. I just saw that gentleman stuff cash down your G-string and I’m required to count it…”)

Friends, it’s clear that America has to do better next year. Our country needs some fresh, outside-the-box ideas for taxes. And we’re asking for your input.

Here are a few ideas to help get you started thinking:

Animal Flatulence Fee
Scientists tell us that methane from the flatulence of cows is one of the main causes of global warming. (Honest. I am not making this up.) Well then, this is a no-brainer. The only question is whether we extend this yearly fee to non-farm animals, possibly even to people who consistently overeat.

Illegible Penmanship Tax
Tens of thousands of man- and woman-hours are spent trying to figure out what people have written—on IRS tax returns, on driver’s license applications, on write-in ballots, etc. If government employees waste their valuable time struggling to read your handwriting, it should cost you.

Non-Consumption Tax
Our economy depends on the ever-expanding consumption of goods and services. This keeps our factories humming, our workers employed. So, if you’re not consuming enough stuff, you ought to step up to the plate and max out your credit cards, or face a stiff tax for not buying your “fair share.”

The Bullshit Fee
This is perhaps the largest potential source of revenue there is, particularly in our state capitols and on Wall Street. Even though Ernest Hemingway claimed he had a “built-in bullshit detector,” this did nothing to reduce the enormous quantity produced each year. If economists could figure out a way to measure and charge for it, we could balance our budget in no time flat.

If you have an idea for a new tax to help our government raise money, please leave a comment at the bottom of this “Just Saying” column. If you’re reading this column in the printed newspaper, go online to

Your country needs you!

Editor’s Note: This is a non-partisan column. In some cases, Pete has used the word “taxes,” as preferred by Democrats. In other cases, he’s used the word “fees,” as preferred by Republicans, mainly to prove they’re against new taxes. Bottom line: It all comes out of the same pocket: yours. 

Pete Tannen is a humor writer who has won multiple awards from the National Press Club (Washington, D.C.), the Press Club of Long Island and the Florida Press Association. His columns can also be heard on select Public Radio stations across the U.S.


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