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Common but Overlooked Taxes You Pay


A lot of attention has been paid to the expiring Bush tax cuts and the new 3.8% Medicare surtax, leaving some other taxes to fly under the radar. In fact there are some pretty common taxes that you probably don't even realize you pay.

A lot of attention has been paid to the expiring Bush tax cuts and the new 3.8% Medicare surtax, leaving some other taxes to fly under the radar.

Every year Americans pay a multitude of taxes — so many that you might not even realize you’re paying them. The American Institute of CPAs has come up with the some common taxes that aren’t widely known.

“Most Americans’ tax awareness is limited to recognition of income, property and Social Security taxes,” AICPA President and Chief Executive Officer Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, said in a statement. “However, there are other taxes imposed by federal, state and local governments on energy consumption, phone use and television viewing, among other day-to-day activities.”

Unranked, here are eight common taxes most people don’t realize they’re paying.

Alternative minimum tax

The point of this tax is to ensure that individuals pay some minimum amount of federal income tax despite their deductions, credits or exemptions.

Electricity or natural gas tax

Energy suppliers collect this tax based on use of electricity or natural gas during the billing period.

Cable tax

Cable television subscribers have to pay this tax.

Landline phone tax

Less and less people are using landlines these days, instead opting to only have a cell phone. In doing so, they are avoiding a federal and state tax associated with the use of a fixed phone line.

Cell phone tax

Even if you avoid the landline phone tax, you’re still paying this federal and state tax on mobile phone users.

State gasoline tax

Every gallon of gasoline sold is taxed. This tax is made up of an excise tax and other taxes and fees, which vary state by state.

Cigarette tax

Perhaps the tax of cigarette use can help push smokers to quit. In addition to a federal tax, smokers pay a state tax, which can be mere pennies in some states up to as much as $4.35 in New York.

State alcohol tax

States tax beers, wine and spirits per gallon. The tax for each of these categories varies. For instance, in Washington the tax on spirits is $26.45 while beer is only 26 cents, according to The Tax Foundation.

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