From the "eeeewwwww" tax file
Second 1040-ES due today

Happy Flag Day 2009!

Happy Flag Day America!

Flying flags The idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the U.S. flag is believed to have first originated in 1885, according to But it was not until Aug. 3, 1949, that President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.

So if you have a Star Spangled Banner, be sure to fly it proudly today. And to get you in the mood, check out this rendition of You're A Grand Old Flag.

Sales tax breaks for flags: In some states, you can save a bit of money when you buy a flag. Several have exempted such purchases from sales tax.

In New Jersey, for example, "Sales of flags of the United States of America or of the State of New Jersey are exempt from New Jersey sales and use tax. This exemption is limited to sales of actual flags. It does not apply to mere representations of flags or to merchandise with a flag theme."

The same is true in neighboring New York, which in 2001 amended its tax code to expand the definition of the term "flag" to include related accessories to be used solely for the display of the flag as long as they are purchased at the same time and as part of a single charge along with a U.S. or Empire State flag.

"As a result of this change," notes the New York Department of Taxation and Finance, "flag kits and flagpole kits containing flags of the United States of America or the State of New York sold on or after September 1, 2001, are exempt from sales and use tax and retailers are to stop collecting tax on those sales."

Back in November 2001, the Texas State Comptroller, in examining whether the Lone Star State should waive sales tax collection on U.S., Texas and P.O.W. flags, researched the issue. (I love it when my state tax dollars do work for me!)

The information, available on Texas' Window on State Government Web site, notes that:

"Other states exempt the sale of flags from their sales taxes. United States flags, but not the state flag, are exempt in Massachusetts. California exempts the sale of U.S. flags by non-profit veterans organizations when the profits are used solely for the purposes of the non-profit organization. Similarly, the sale of U.S. flags by and to federally tax-exempt veterans organizations is exempt from the Vermont sales tax.

Both the United States flag and the flag of the state are exempt in Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Tennessee partially exempts the sale of United States and Tennessee flags sold by non-profit organizations. Virginia exempts the sale of official U.S., state, county, city, and town flags if sold by a government agency. The United States flag, the flag of the state, and the P.O.W./M.I.A. flag are exempt in Maryland and Rhode Island."

Note the dates of not only the New York law but the Texas study. Obviously the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001, prompted widespread legislative (and political) efforts to enact "patriotic" laws. And yes, such measures are usually more symbolic than truly revenue related.

But who can really argue against a relatively inexpensive symbolic tax law in connection with a country's most revered icon? Not me and especially not on this day.

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