Archive for the ‘Sales’ Category

Give Me A Brake!

December 18, 2008

Make that two brakes for the front of our Toyota Sienna. I took the car to the shop tonight for a quick and cheap oil change but ended up spending more than $325 to replace the front brakes. They were almost below the legal limit and would have failed inspection in January anyway.

Thankfully, the tax tab was only $2.81 because most of the work involved labor rather than parts.


Tax Hiker Of The Year

December 17, 2008

New York Gov. David Paterson wins the award for this laundry list of items he has proposed taxing:

  • — Downloaded music — the “iPod tax”
  • — Cable and satellite television
  • — Movie tickets
  • — Taxi rides
  • — Massages
  • — Tobacco and alcohol

And that’s just a sampling of the 80-plus new fees and taxes on his list. Paterson also is the brains behind the call for an “obesity tax” on soda. Yet another reason to be thankful that I live in Virginia.

The United States Of Sales Taxes

November 17, 2008
How much do you pay in sales taxes? The Tax Foundation has the answer.

How much do you pay in sales taxes?

Joseph Henchman of the Tax Foundation created this helpful map of the states with the highest and lowest sales taxes (hat tip to The Club For Growth):

You might think I would be grateful that my family lives in Virginia, but as a Virginian, I know we pay a higher price in property taxes and income taxes. Aunt Virginia and her political kin will get their pound of flesh one way or another.

Tax Bites By The Numbers

November 13, 2008

The Americans for Tax Reform Foundation has created an enlightening chart that estimates how much more money Americans must pay for certain goods and services because of taxes. Some of the taxes — the kind I have tracked here — appear on consumers’ bills, but many others are hidden.

Here’s the rundown from ATR:

  • Cigarettes: 81.3 percent more
  • Distilled spirits: 79.6 percent
  • Car rentals: 60.6 percent
  • Beer: 56.2 percent
  • Domestic airfare: 55 percent (much more for international, based on reports from a friend who travels abroad frequently)
  • Landline phones: 51.8 percent
  • Gasoline: 51.2 percent
  • Hotel stays: 50 percent
  • Cell phones: 46.4 percent
  • Cable television: 46.3 percent
  • Firearms: 45.6 percent
  • Restaurant meals: 44.8 percent
  • Soda: 37.6 percent

I don’t drink or smoke, so I’m not personally affected by the “sin taxes.” And while I own a couple of hunting guns, I haven’t bought a new one in almost 20 years, so firearms taxes aren’t likely to rob me of more cash. But I have been hit by every one of the other taxes on the list more than once this year.

I keep a copy of ATR’s chart in my office at work as a stark reminder of how intrusive the government is in my life and my wallet. You should print a copy, too, at

Taxing The Convention Crowd

August 14, 2008

Municipalities in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota know an opportunity to tax when they see one. The Republican convention will be held there in a few weeks, and some visitors in the area for the quadrennial political party will be paying more to experience the festivities.

I’ll be among them. I received a “special press” credential to cover the convention for I’ll also be covering it for my day job as the executive producer of

So today I received this e-mail tax warning from the Republican Party:

The Minnesota Department of Revenue recently issued a tax change that will affect your hotel stay. Beginning July 1, 2008, the Minneapolis metropolitan area counties of Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, and Washington imposed a 0.25% transit sales and use tax, which will be used to fund the area’s transit system including light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit. Due to this change, the tax rate listed on your hotel confirmation may not be accurate. Please refer to your hotel folio upon your arrival or departure for the accurate tax rate that will be applied to your stay.

Thanks, Minnesota.

A Rush Of New Taxes For Limbaugh

July 3, 2008

Jealous liberal journalists who long to be richer than Rush Limbaugh have been falling all over themselves to criticize their conservative nemesis and the undisputed champion of talk radio the past couple of days.

Why? Because he just negotiated a contract renewal with Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of Clear Channel Radio, that reportedly will net him $400 million over eight years, including a nine-figure signing bonus.

Why that’s a problem is beyond me. If Premiere didn’t think Limbaugh was worth it based on past performance, the company wouldn’t have made the deal. It’s the free market at work, and every liberal who is whining about the deal would take all that money and then some if offered it for doing their jobs.

Besides, every liberal should be celebrating the rush of taxes that will flow into government coffers thanks to Limbaugh.

The numbers are staggering any way you look at it. I asked Peter Sepp, vice president for policy and communications at the National Taxpayers Union, to guesstimate Limbaugh’s tax bite from his new contract. With the obvious caveat that “there are a whole lot of variables both in the structure of his compensation package and the strategies he employs that would affect the actual tax burden,” Sepp predicted that Limbaugh will pay anywhere from one-third to 40 percent of his compensation to the government in taxes.

I’ll do the math for you: That’s $132 million to $160 million in taxes! And Sepp said the bite would be far worse if Limbaugh lived somewhere other than Florida, which has no state income tax and light business taxes. If he lived in California, the Golden Treasury State, he would have added up to 10 percent more ($40 million) to the tax tab.

That’s not counting all of the sales, property, gas and other taxes Limbaugh will be paying every time he spends a million dimes. And his penchant for cigars and other “sins” means he’ll be on the hook for even more.

Here’s the way all the liberals in the media and government should be looking at Limbaugh’s contract: He’s a one-man economic stimulus machine. Just imagine how many more pork projects will be funded over the next eight years because Rush Limbaugh got a hefty raise.

Chicago: The King Of Sales Taxes

July 1, 2008

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

If you think you’re paying more sales tax today in Cook County, you are. The sales tax rate jumps 1 percent today, thanks to a Cook County Board vote, giving Chicago the dubious distinction of having the highest municipal sales tax rate in the nation.

You’ll pay the highest rate of sales tax in restaurants inside a special taxing district of Chicago that originated with the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority’s renaming and Navy Pier’s renovation in 1989.

I doubt Chicago too far ahead of the District of Columbia on the sales-tax front. I always hated commuting into the nation’s capital unless I took lunch because I knew I was going to pay big taxes for eating out. In fact, I suspect that Chicago isn’t the leader of other big cities by much at all.

New Taxes In The Old Dominion?

June 26, 2008

I used to think Virginia, my current home, and West Virginia, my birthplace and dream forever home, were quite different places. Western Virginians, in fact, used the Civil War as a good excuse to achieve a split that had been in the making for decades. The people on the two sides of the Appalachian Mountain range had very little in common.

Now that Democrats are in power again in Virginia, though, there ain’t much difference between west and east. This kind of news from the Old Dominion sounds an awful lot like the news I used to read regularly (and write as a journalist) when I lived in the Mountain State:

The Virginia Senate voted along party lines Wednesday to raise the gas tax by 6 cents, but officials in both parties say the measure has almost no chance in the House of Delegates, leaving many legislators to wonder whether any plan to pay for transportation will be resolved in the current special session. …

Senate Democrats ignored a proposal by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), approving a plan that would raise the gas tax over the next six years, increase the statewide sales tax by 0.25 percent and boost the tax on vehicle purchases by 0.5 percent. Together, the taxes would raise $452 million annually.

That’s two different proposals with the same underlying answer: tax and spend. Makes me wanna move to Montana.

Tire(d) Of Taxes

June 5, 2008

We haven’t rotated the tires on our Toyota Sienna since we bought it, so I took it to NTB this morning. One of the tires also has had a slow leak for the past few months, so I had that repaired. It cost about 50 bucks — plus another $2.48 in sales taxes.

Why Did I Eat Fish & Chips?

May 30, 2008

I’ve been asking myself that question ever since I finished lunch today. Even worse, why did I eat that greasy meal at the has-been Arthur Treacher’s chain? And why did I eat it in Alexandria, where the local taxes make the cost of such intestinal treachery even higher.

I hadn’t eaten at an Arthur Treacher’s in almost 20 years. Hopefully the 48 cents in taxes on top of the indigestion I’ll be feeling the rest of the day will be enough to make me stay away at least that long and preferably the rest of my life!

Backyard Beaches

May 26, 2008

Our youngest child and her friends like to haul sand around in play trucks in our backyard to make beaches all around the sandbox. So at least once a year, I have to trek to Home Depot for a new supply of sand. Today was the day because we hosted a Memorial Day picnic.

The sand set us back $20; the taxes cost us an extra dollar.

Tax, Tax On The Range

May 24, 2008

The father-son camping trip that I mentioned a few months ago is only a couple of weeks away, so we’ve been doing some shopping this week.

The latest purchases are on top of what I spent earlier this month on clothes. Camping sure ain’t cheap, and Aunt Virginia and her siblings makes it even pricier.

The tax tab over the past two days totaled $12.31 — and there’s still more to come because I’m taking my old-fashioned SLR camera with the wide-angle lens, which means I have to buy film.

Taxing The Clothes On Our Backs

May 16, 2008

When I was a child, my mother rarely bought clothes for herself. She much preferred spending the spare money our family could budget for clothes on my three brothers and me — and sometimes Dad.

Kimberly is much the same way now. She jumps at the chance to buy clothes for our son and two daughters, and likes me to splurge when I get the urge (rarely) for a new outfit, but she doesn’t tend to shop for herself often.

This month, thankfully, she has been having fun spoiling herself, too. She works hard and I wish she’d spend more money on the clothes I know she loves.

The downside is that we have to pay more taxes. This month alone, we have spent nearly $8 in taxes just to put clothes on our backs.

And we paid a bit more for some of those clothes than we normally would have because we were on the road. The sales-tax rate in West Virginia, where I bought clothes for our camping trip next month, is 6 percent, and it’s 7 percent in neighboring Kentucky, where Kimberly finally broke down and bought herself a new outfit.

But hey, at least we’ll look good in our new outfits.

Aunt Virginia Hates Mothers

May 12, 2008

Why do I say that? Because we just made it through another Mother’s Day weekend and the sales-tax bill collected by the state of Virginia is quite hefty.

I did splurge this year by getting Kimberly the heart-shaped gold necklace with diamonds she has wanted for years, but even if all we had bought were cards, flowers and dinners for the mothers, we’d have paid a pretty penny to Aunt Virginia.

My guess is she’s a jealous, old spinster. Same for her sisters in West Virginia and Ohio, where we took the two sets of parents out to dinner over two days.

Here’s the tax punishment we endured over the weekend for celebrating our mothers:
— Dinners: $6.61
— Necklace: $4.30
— Cards: $1.70
— Flowers: $1.36

A Century Of Tax Mischief

May 5, 2008

My Dad forwarded to me an e-mail that included this gem about all of the taxes conceived in the minds of politicians over the past century (the impact of several of them on just our family has been chronicled on this blog):

Accounts receivable tax
Building permit tax
CDL license tax
Cigarette tax
Corporate income tax
Dog license tax
Federal income tax
Federal unemployment tax
Fishing license tax
Food license tax
Fuel permit tax
Gasoline tax
Hunting license tax
Inheritance tax
Inventory tax
IRS interest charges (tax on top of tax)
IRS penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor tax
Luxury tax
Marriage license tax
Medicare tax
Property tax
Real-estate tax
Service charge taxes
Social Security tax
Road usage tax (truckers)
Sales taxes
Recreational vehicle tax
School tax
State income tax
State unemployment tax
Telephone taxes
— Federal excise
— Universal service fee
— Federal, state and local surcharges
— Minimum-usage surcharge
— Taxes on recurring and non-recurring phone charges
— State and local phone taxes
— Telephone-usage charge tax
Utility tax
Vehicle registration tax
Vehicle sales tax
Watercraft registration tax
Well permit tax
Workers compensation tax

The kicker to the e-mail: “Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, and our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids. What happened? Can you spell ‘politicians?'”