Sales-tax-free Old Glory

© StacieStauffSmith Photos/

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July 4th is my favorite holiday. No, it’s not the fireworks. It’s because it came about because of taxes, or rather because of taxation without representation.

You know the story. The Boston Tea Party. The Declaration of Independence. Betsy Ross and the Stars and Stripes.

The connection between taxes and our flag continues today in many states.

Flag sale tax exemptions

The sale of U.S. flags, along with state flags, is tax free in 10 states. They are Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Flag sales are tax free in California and Vermont if the banners are sold by nonprofit veterans’ organizations.

In Tennessee, flags are tax exempt if sold by any nonprofit.

And no sales tax is collected on flag purchases made through a government agency in Virginia.

Flags only

In most states, the tax exemption applies only to actual flags.

Red, white and blue banners, miniature flags, patriotic decorations and any other products displaying images of Old Glory are still fully taxable.

So, too, are accessories such as flag poles and mounting equipment.

Symbolic tax savings

While exempting U.S. and state flags from sales taxes is a nice gesture, the tax savings typically are small.

A bit of online comparison shopping found the most expensive three-by-five foot cotton U.S. flag priced at around $35. It’s $10 to $20 less if you opt for a synthetic version.

In the 45 states and Washington, D.C., that collect sales taxes, the state rates are less than 10 percent. Added local levies might push into the double-digit mark in some jurisdictions. Still, a 10 percent tax on $35 comes to just $3.50.

That means states aren’t losing a lot of revenue and flag buyers aren’t pocketing a lot of money back from their tax collectors.

But like the Star Spangled Banner, the sales tax savings are symbolic. And unlike the Stars and Stripes, they might not be forever.

So if your state offers a tax break on our Grand Old Flag, take advantage of it while you can.

More tax info from Bankrate

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Veteran contributing editor Kay Bell is the author of the book “The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes” and co-author of the e-book “Future Millionaires’ Guidebook.”