Paying taxes is just one of those things you have to deal with when you become an adult. It’s inevitable, and it sucks. But we do it because we have to. Well, unless you want to say “Damn the man” and try to buck the system, but you can only do that for so long before it comes back to bite you. Just ask actor Wesley Snipes, who recently began serving a 3-year prison sentence for tax evasion.

So, we hand over billions of our hard-earned dollars every year, but we don’t have to like it.

When Steve and I started my photography business this past year in Arizona, we learned more than we ever wanted to about sales tax. As consumers, we paid the balance due without ever giving a whole lot of thought to the additional taxes on the ticket. Sure we noticed the numbers, but we never really took the time to dissect it and figure out how much we were actually being charged, and by whom. When we opened the business and had to figure out how much to charge ourselves, we began to understand just how out of control taxes are, especially in Arizona.

For every sales transaction, the state of Arizona collects 5.6% in taxes. Pinal County (where we lived), tacks on another 1% tax. Cities also have their own tax rates, and our little hamlet of Coolidge weighs in at a whopping 3%! Add it all up, and you’re paying an additional 9.6% on every purchase. For a state that had so much trouble trying to balance and pass its budgets recently, it makes you wonder just where all the tax dollars are really going.

Of course, there are plenty of taxes in Nebraska too. We didn’t escape them completely when we moved. However, we have been pleasantly surprised with our grocery bills. You’d think that after the years I spent working in the grocery store while in high school, I’d remember that, in Nebraska, food items are tax exempt. Boy, what a difference that makes when you load up the cart to stock the pantry for the month!

Steven and I like to play a little game when we go grocery shopping–Guess the Grand Total. We play with Price is Right rules. Whoever guesses closest to the actual price without going over is the winner. I think the game first began as a way to keep ourselves from letting the number freak us out, especially when we were first married and trying to survive from paycheck to paycheck. There is never a tangible prize, just bragging rights. Today, for the second time since we moved to Nebraska, we both lost for grossly overestimating the total. Let me tell you, losing has never felt so good.

Today’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to the lovely people who blessed us Nebraskans with tax exempt groceries.

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