Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

October 31, 2007

The Grinch Who Taxed Halloween

by Doug Mataconis

So is that pumpkin you bought over the weekend something you intend to eat, or is it just a decoration.

If you live in Iowa, it apparently makes a difference:

The Iowa Department of Revenue is taxing jack-o’-lanterns this Halloween. The new department policy was implemented after officials decided that pumpkins are used primarily for Halloween decorations, not food, and should be taxed, said Renee Mulvey, the department’s spokeswoman.

“We made the change because we wanted the sales tax law to match what we thought the predominant use was,” Mulvey said. “We thought the predominant use was for decorations or jack-o’-lanterns.”

Previously, pumpkins had been considered an edible squash and exempted from the tax. The department ruled this year that pumpkins are taxable — with some exceptions — if they are advertised for use as jack-‘o-lanterns or decorations.

Iowans planning to eat pumpkins can still get a tax exemption if they fill out a form.

The new policy, published in the department’s September newsletter, has some pumpkin farmers feeling tricked this Halloween.

“I don’t mind paying taxes, but let’s get real here, people,” said Bob Kautz, owner of the Buffalo Pumpkin Patch in Buffalo, about eight miles west of Davenport.

Kautz, who has owned his farm for seven years, was particularly dismayed with the notion of requiring customers to fill out a form verifying that they planned to eat the pumpkins they were buying.

“It’s another crazy, crazy, stupid thing,” he said.

Isn’t that what the state specializes in, the crazy and the stupid ?

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