Fifty shades of insanity

Sales taxes are often inscrutable. (Even the five states who don’t have sales taxes have their weirdnesses.) Here in Soonerland, for instance, prescription drugs are exempt from sales tax, though if those same drugs later are sold over the counter, Oklahoma steps up and claims 4.5 percent, and cities and some counties pad the take further.

Still, that’s not quite as perverse a provision as this one in New York state:

For instance, is a bagel taxable? “Food that is prepared and arranged on a plate or platter by the seller, and that is ready to be eaten is taxable. It doesn’t matter whether the food is sold to be eaten at the store or another place, or whether it’s served hot or cold.” (Times Union, April 28, 2011.) So if a plain, unadorned bagel had been put in a bag, it would NOT be subject to sales tax.

Trust me on this: Oklahoma will tax your bagels. Period.


  1. J T »

    6 May 2017 · 11:17 am

    Buy a bag of chips and a sandwich at a grocery store, not taxed.
    Buy the same thing at a Subway/Jersey Mikes/etc. Taxed.
    The sandwich I can possibly see since it’s “prepared”, but the chips are exactly the same.

  2. fillyjonk »

    6 May 2017 · 12:03 pm

    This is why I kind of roll my eyes at the people in Some States who complain about the “unfairness” of taxing feminine-hygiene products. How about here, where FOOD is taxed. Every food, not just the “evil” ones like pop. And the OTC allergy meds I need to take. And, and, and.

    Some states you get taxed for eat-in, but not for carry-out at restaurants, or at least that’s how it used to be.

    I think Illinois still has the “low tax” and “high tax” system where some “necessary” things are low tax and other things (e.g., makeup) deemed “unnecessary” are high tax.

  3. Dan T. »

    6 May 2017 · 1:08 pm

    When I was a kid in New York state, comic books were not taxed because they were periodicals.

  4. Roger Green »

    6 May 2017 · 5:22 pm

    Dan – I used to work at a comic book store in Albany, NY. Comic books sold at a price greater than the cover price are considered collectibles and thus ARE subject to sales tax.

  5. McG »

    6 May 2017 · 6:56 pm

    I remember being scandalized when I moved to Georgia and found that my groceries were sales-taxed.

    Alaska had (has?) no statewide sales tax and I think the limited 3% tax in North Pole may not have applied to non-restaurant food, and even California’s confiscatory sales tax never applied to groceries while I lived there.

    Georgia has since ratcheted the sales tax on grocery items down, but they still take their take.

RSS feed for comments on this post