New Jersey is reminding residents that if they purchased a pumpkin and intend to use it for a decoration, there’s a tax for that.
Folks who eat their pumpkins are exempt, however.
Pumpkins used for decoration are subject to Sales Tax.
Pumpkins used for food or in food preparation are tax free. pic.twitter.com/bZzyAVsQb1
— NJ Div of Taxation (@nj_taxation) October 15, 2019
The New Jersey Division of Taxation sent out this friendly reminder via Twitter on Tuesday.
“Pumpkins used for decoration are subject to Sales Tax,” the post read. “Pumpkins used for food or in food preparation are tax free.”
The advisory, of course, sparked a lot of important questions.
“What if I roast and eat the seeds, then make a decoration? Do I pay half tax?” John Berry joked.
“What if the squirrels eat my decoration? What if I bought it for the squirrels to eat but they don’t and it ends up a decoration?” Jen questioned.
“What if it’s not really a decoration, I just leave it outside until I’m ready to cook it?” Michele added.
Save Jersey reports the state’s current sales tax rate is 6.625%, or nearly 7 cents on the dollar.
Pumpkins in the Garden State run about 70 cents per pound, so the pumpkin tax would cost about 46 cents for a 10 pound pumpkin. It’s about an extra dollar for a larger 22 pound gourd commonly used for jack-o-lanterns.
Want to buy one of the giant pumpkin for decoration like the one that won last year’s NJ Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off? Fugetaboutit.
The 1,179-pound whopper that took home top prize at the South Jersey Pumpkin Show in 2018 would cost an extra $55, based on the going rate.
But New Jersey isn’t the only state that punishes folks for participating in Halloween.
Tax analyst John Swain published a paper as far back as 2007 detailing how several states address taxing pumpkins, which are sold primarily for decoration but also qualify as food, which typically isn’t taxed.
Swain developed a Pumpkin Tax Score Card to outline policies in different states that specifically address the issue, including Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
Shortly after Swain’s report, Iowa abolished its pumpkin tax.
In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy wants to raise the state’s sales tax to 7 percent, which would mean residents there would pay even more of a premium to light up their porches on Halloween.
That extra expense, however, pales in comparison to the so-called “Pumpkin Spice Tax” – or the cost tacked onto common beverages and other items with the popular flavor.
“A MagnifyMoney analysis of pumpkin spice-flavored items at several grocery stores and coffee shops found that customers often pay a premium for that perennial autumn flavor — in essence, a ‘pumpkin spice tax’ that can be up to 133 percent higher on a per-unit (ounces) basis,” MagnifyMoney reported in 2017.
“In the study, we compared the prices of the pumpkin spice and standard flavors of more than 200 food and beverage items at a half-dozen Manhattan-area retailers and restaurants in late September. We reviewed items in person at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Fairway, CVS, Starbucks, Pret a Manger, Panera, Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s. We supplemented our findings with a review of products at three online retailers — Walmart.com, Target.com and FreshDirect.com,” it continued.
“Not only are some retailers charging significant surcharges on pumpkin spice-flavored products, but consumers are often paying more and getting less in return.”