The popular saying is that the only guarantees in life are death and taxes, but do Americans really understand just how many taxes they pay? We don’t just mean all those ugly negatives on your pay stub. Taxes hit us everywhere, even when we do amazing things (getting married), normal things (drive to work), and necessary things (buy food and clothes).
Too often, we don’t even notice all the extra money that gets pinched away by taxes. Well, open your eyes and take a look at this top ten list of everyday taxes that you almost can’t avoid.
- Making Money – Income Tax: If you earn more than $10,000 as an individual or $20,000 as a married couple in a year, then you will expected to pay income tax to the federal government as well as your state and possibly even your local government. The rate of your income tax will depend on the amount of your net income and is typically between 10% and 39.6%. (To pay less in income taxes, take a look at our helpful library of tax-related articles for women.)
- Making a Profit – Long-Term Capital Gains Tax: Everyone loves the thought of selling a stock, a bond, a home, or a collectible and making a hefty profit, but if that profit is too big, Uncle Sam will want a piece of it in the form of capital gains tax. The rate of the capital gains tax will depend on the individual or couple’s income bracket.
- Fill Your Tank – The Gasoline Tax: Every gallon of gasoline or diesel you put into your vehicle also puts money in the pockets of the federal and state government. The federal government takes 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon of diesel. The average state gasoline tax as of Jan. 2015 was 30.1 cents for gasoline or diesel. That means, on average, 48.5 cents of every gallon of gasoline and 54.5 cents of every gallon of diesel goes to state and federal taxes.
- Getting Married – Marriage License Tax: Getting married is a happy occasion for you and for your state government. Every state requires a couple to obtain a marriage license in order to legally recognize their marriage. These licenses aren’t free. Marriage license fees vary by state and even by counties within a state. You’ll pay $28 for a marriage license in New Jersey, $60 in Alaska, and up to $100 in some California counties, according to USMarriageLaws.com. (Want to make sure your marriage is a financially happy one? View our archive of articles all about finances and relationships.)
- Owning Property – Property Tax: If you own your own home, a farm, or other property, then you will pay property tax based on its value along with your monthly mortgage payments and insurance premiums. Property taxes are mostly levied at the local level by counties, cities, towns, parishes, and school districts.
- Hunting – Hunting License Tax: If you want to legally hunt in the United States, you will need to purchase a hunting license regulated by the state and adhere to state and federal hunting guidelines. The cost of a hunting license varies from state to state, and fees may changing depending on what kind of hunting license you seek (ex. Resident hunting license, nonresident hunting license, junior hunting license, one-day hunting license, big game fee, special tags.)
- Wine Tasting – Liquor Tax: If all this talk of taxes makes you want to grab a drink, guess what…yep, you’ll run into taxes there too. Every state taxes wine, beer, and spirits by the gallon. You’ll only pay the state of California $0.20 per gallon of wine, but New Mexico will require $1.70, and Florida wants $2.25, according to BusinessInsider.com.
- Driving – Toll Roads: Depending on where you drive, you may even have to pay taxes just to get to work or to drive to Grandmother’s house. Twenty six states have toll roads (popularly known as turnpikes on the East coast) that will cost at least a few quarters for each passing.
- Dying – Estate Tax: You’d think that death would be a surefire way to escape taxes, but not exactly. If you transfer an estate of significant value (currently over $5,430,000 in 2015) to your heirs through a will or if you don’t have a will and your estate goes through probate, the federal and state government will apply estate tax (also known as inheritance tax or “death tax” by opponents.) This is why estate planning is so important!
- Buying Almost Anything – Sales Tax: Forty-five of the fifty states (and Guam!) impose sales taxes on their citizens on anything from toothpaste to polka dotted sweaters, karaoke machines, and the latest wearable technology. The more you buy, the more you pay in taxes. Citizens in California receive the immense honor of paying the highest base sales tax in the union at 7.5%.
Though many taxes are relatively minor, they do add up, and it’s important that we all understand what we are paying taxes on and where these taxes are going. After all, the government that imposes them is supposed to work for us!