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Nothing is Certain in Life Except Hot Dogs and Taxes

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Hot dog by stu_spivak on Flickr (CC license)

Hot dog by stu_spivak on Flickr (CC license)

Even though we’ve missed National Hot Dog Day, we can still take a moment and consider what surely must be one of the most unique taxes in American history: the hot dog tax.

Thanks to TaxGirl a.k.a. Kelly Phillips Erb at Forbes, it has come to our attention that in the 1970s there was a sales tax known as “the Hot Dog tax” in New York, though it actually affected much more than hot dogs. The law taxed any restaurant bill that totaled 11 to 99 cents, and brought many lunches such as the beloved hot dog, under that umbrella. Breakfast and any meals that cost a dollar or over were exempt.

It didn’t take long for the people to revolt against the Hot Dog tax, and so the Citizens Committee to Repeal the Hot Dog Tax came to life; their main beef was that many believed the tax penalized the poor.

Eventually the tax was broadened to include meals totaling more than a dollar, so it’s no longer known as the Hot Dog tax, but as Erb notes, the strange relationship between hot dogs and taxes in New York continues, as refrigerated hot dogs are not subject to sales tax whereas those heated and/or served on a bun are.

And if you’re in the mood for even more exploration of the hot dog vis-à-vis taxes, check out Erb’s full post for fun facts about how other states, including Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and California, handle such meaty matters.

In any event, there’s always next year to celebrate National Hot Dog Month (July) according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council!

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August 19th, 2013 at 10:49 am

Posted in Taxes

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