Iowa reclassifies pumpkins as "decorations" for tax purposes

jaw04005

macrumors 601
Original poster
Aug 19, 2003
4,369
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ES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- The taxman in Iowa is going after jack-o'-lanterns this Halloween.

Most pumpkins are used as decorations, making them taxable, Iowa has ruled.

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, just west of Davenport.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/10/31/pumpkin.tax.ap/index.html


Sorry, I just find this funny. It's a squash people.
 

pacohaas

macrumors 6502a
Jan 24, 2006
516
3
Seems fair to me. Just stop advertising them as Jack-o-lanterns in stores and keep them near the produce section. Honestly though, do people dig through those huge bins just before Halloween to look for a side dish for their next meal or are they looking for something to carve? Granted, when I was little, we would carve the pumpkin while mom cleaned, salted and roasted the seeds...and people do sometimes use the pumpkins to make pumpkin pie(when they're really really bored since the canned stuff is exactly the same and way easier). I don't think anyone eats those "mini" pumpkins or the ones that are already painted as decorations, so the tax makes sense in that case.
 

killerrobot

macrumors 68020
Jun 7, 2007
2,220
2
127.0.0.1
That's really messed up. :eek:
Are they going to start taxing caviar that's used for decorations on plates?
Or what about that sprig of thyme used for decoration at many restaurants for their main courses.
Hmm... if I buy peanuts and set them out in a glass bowl on the table, is that or decoration or is it still food? :confused:
 

pacohaas

macrumors 6502a
Jan 24, 2006
516
3
They didn't say they were going to tax garnish, but rather decorations. As for the peanuts, I would say the reclassification is based on the general population and that just because you might buy them for that, their primary usage is still food and so it would remain untaxed....until we decide that peanuts should be used every labor day as decorations in our windowsills and a huge influx of bulk peanuts show up in stores the week before. Oh, and painted peanuts too, of course.
 

jaw04005

macrumors 601
Original poster
Aug 19, 2003
4,369
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Granted, when I was little, we would carve the pumpkin while mom cleaned, salted and roasted the seeds...and people do sometimes use the pumpkins to make pumpkin pie(when they're really really bored since the canned stuff is exactly the same and way easier).
My mother and grandmother still do this, and it's great. :)

I don't think anyone eats those "mini" pumpkins or the ones that are already painted as decorations, so the tax makes sense in that case.
Good point, although I guess it's theoretically possible.
 

foidulus

macrumors 6502a
Jan 15, 2007
904
1
Do they tax canned pumpkin

the article doesn't say, but I would hope not since if you are using canned pumpkin as a decoration you have other issues. Meanwhile, I'm a pumpkin fiend when it comes to the food. I even put it in my yougurt. Man, I miss living in Japan where I could get all sorts of interesting pumpkin breads/desserts. The Germans just don't know how to bake a good pumpkin :p
 

CalBoy

macrumors 604
May 21, 2007
7,849
37
the article doesn't say, but I would hope not since if you are using canned pumpkin as a decoration you have other issues. Meanwhile, I'm a pumpkin fiend when it comes to the food. I even put it in my yougurt. Man, I miss living in Japan where I could get all sorts of interesting pumpkin breads/desserts. The Germans just don't know how to bake a good pumpkin :p
I doubt canned pumpkins would be taxed, since they would have to be consumed and not used for decorations (can you imagine that:eek:).

PS: I'm with you: pumpkin pie all the way ;)

The tax makes sense, but I really wonder if it's worth implementing. Surely the cost of putting it in place probably comes close to any revenue it is expected to generate (Iowa's pumpkin sales can't be all that large can they?).
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,415
124
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Under their rules, pumpkins really should be taxed. They're mainly used for decorations around Halloween. In this case, I don't feel so bad about the new tax. People in Iowa are not getting screwed around.
 

imac/cheese

macrumors 6502a
Jun 7, 2007
555
1
This is really going to hurt those pumpkin farmers that set up roadside pumpkin stands to sell their produce for halloween. They normally wouldn't have to pay any taxes but now they have to go through all the additional process of setting up taxes for each pumpkin they sell. Of course they can just label the pumpkins as great for making pie.
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,415
124
Location Location Location
You're funny. Do you really think a farmer is going to pay taxes from a small, one-week sale from the side of a country road? The farmer is going to collect even more money. ;)
 
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