Do you live in Illinois?

I’m going to guess there’s a good chance that you didn’t realize your taxes were about to go up on a few items that you might purchase on a regular basis.

I am registered with the Illinois Department of Revenue as a business (because I thought, once upon a time, that I might sell some photography). As a result, I get bulletins on tax related things. I recently got the Illinois Department of Revenue Informational Bulletin FY 2010-01.

I’ll summarize it for you. Starting on September 1, 2009, taxes on a few groups of “things” is going to go up by 5.25%. So, your tax on $10 of this stuff is going to increase by 52 cents.

“Well, tell us what it is!” you say. Hold on a bit. I need to give some more background information. I had heard some time ago that governments were going to start increasing sin taxes (taxes on things that aren’t staples). For the most part, these items fall in this category, but not totally.

The state of Illinois has two tax rates. The normal tax rate, of 6.25% applies to normal merchandise (you might be paying more (and likely are) in your own town because local municipalities like to add taxes onto the state’s portion. Here in Champaign, the state gets 6.25%, but we pay 7.75% on general merchandise.) There’s a second class of items called “Food and medicine” where the tax rate is only 1%. The changes on September 1 are going to move several items from the “Food and medicine” category to the “general merchandise” category.

Here they are:

  • Candy. This means sugar, honey, or other sweeteners combined with chocolate, fruits, nuts or other flavorings, as bars, drops, pieces, etc. Examples of this: candy bars, chocolate covered nuts, honey roasted peanuts, lollipops, trail mixes (that include chocolate or yogurt), breath mints, and gum. A few things that aren’t included are: candy that contains flour, such as cookies, dried fruit, plain nuts, and yogurt coated pretzels.
  • Soft drinks. Any non-alcohol drink that is sweet. Examples: soda, energy drinks, sweet tea, sweetened water, and juice containing less than 50% actual fruit or vegetable juice, and everything else we normally call a soft drink. (Note that drinks at restaurants have always been, and will continue to be, charged at the higher rate). Exclusions: Stuff with milk in it and fruit/veggy juices that are mostly fruit or veggy juice.

Were those two bad enough? You still with me? How about this last one…

  • Personal grooming and hygiene products. Personally, I don’t consider it a “sin” to keep one’s self clean, but here you go. Unless it’s part of a prescription, expect to pay more for: body soap, shampoo, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, and suntan lotion.

So, the take home message? If you were planning to stock up on any of this stuff, do it by the end of August. Otherwise, you’re going to be paying a little bit more to our well-deserving, squeaky-clean, scandal-free administrators in downtown Chicago and, on occasion, Springfield.

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