Everyone knows about income taxes and sales taxes, but we tend to forget about excise taxes, because they’re not obvious.
Excise taxes are paid when purchases are made on specific goods or activities, such as wagering or highway usage by trucks. The producers or merchants pay the tax and typically include the additional tax in the price to the end consumer. Governments levy excise taxes on goods and services that have a high social cost, such as cigarettes, alcohol and gambling. Excise taxes are also referred to as selective sales or differential commodity taxes.
Here are six key facts regarding common, little-known excise taxes:
- The tax reform bill exempted certain payments made by an aircraft owner or sometimes a lessee, related to the management of private aircraft, from excise taxes imposed on taxable transportation by air.
- To support the use of alternative fuels, fuel tax credits are allowed on certain types of fuel including the following: biodiesel, including renewable diesel and mixture; alternative fuel credit and mixture; and second-generation biofuel producer.
- Indoor tanning service providers may need to file a federal excise tax return. These services are subject to a 10 percent excise tax under the Affordable Care Act. This is an example of how excise taxes are often levied on goods and services that are considered unnecessary.
- Taxpayers who engage in certain specified activities related to excise tax must be registered by the IRS before engaging in the activity. This is known as the 637 registration program. The taxpayer can go online to confirm whether they or a specific company has a valid IRS registration.
- You may be surprised to know that there is an archery federal excise tax, including the importation and manufacture of archery and fishing products. These, of course, affect relatively few people, but are good examples of how a product or service may be subject to a particular excise tax that is not necessarily obvious.
- The Environmental Protection Agency’s list of devices to reduce high tractor idling may be exempt from the 12 percent retail excise tax. This shows that a major component of the excise program is motor fuel, and different rates may apply to different types of fuel — gasoline, diesel and gasohol.
The idea is to limit the use of certain products, such as alcohol and tobacco. States also levy excise taxes. Some people say that excise taxes are stopgap measures to solve short-term problems. In fact, some note that discriminatory excises on the consumption of specified products is a step back in development of fiscal systems, postponing a more proper reform for the country or state.
You can find out more about excise taxes on the IRS website.
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