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Easter baskets, dinners, travel and taxes

The eggs in your Easter basket are probably tax-free. Only a handful of states tax groceries.

But you had to pay tax on the dye kit you dropped in your shopping cart, along with the chocolate rabbits and crème-filled eggs. Sweets and other snacks, seasonal and year-round, tend to be subject to sales tax.

Easter Basket by Andrew McDowell via FlickrSuccessful Easter egg hunt by Andrew McDowell via Flickr

And if, like the parents of the youngster pictured above, you went with reusable plastic eggs, you had to pay tax on them. Ditto the basket itself, along with that green stuff that doesn't look at all like grass and that you find strands of all over the house months later.

All that artsy-craftsy stuff is taxable.

Easter spending and taxes: The Easter-related tax costs don't end once the milk chocolate bunny, ears and all, is eaten and the egg salad is made.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) says spending this holiday is expected to reach $17.3 billion.

The NRF's annual Easter Spending Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, found that consumers plan to spend an average of $146 per person. That’s the highest level in the 13 years the survey has been conducted and up significantly over last year’s $140.62 per person and $16.4 billion total.

The ways that money, and the taxes collected on it, will be parceled out in many ways:

  • 57.8 percent will visit family and friends
    Depending on travel choice, these folks will pay taxes on plane tickets or gasoline, as well as lodging costs if they opt for a hotel instead of a relative's spare bedroom or couch.

  • 55.6 percent will cook a holiday meal
    As noted earlier, for the most part the food bought to make those meals will be sales tax-free. But accoutrements, like holiday-themed table linens and decorations are taxable.

  • 15.6 percent will go to a restaurant
    No tax surprise here. We've all seen the taxes added when we eat out. Just be sure to tip your server who's working on this holiday.

    And a quick tax reminder for all those eatery workers, too. Gratuities are taxable income.

  • 51.3 percent will go to church
    Here is a situation where you can get a possible tax deduction instead of paying taxes. Gifts to IRS-qualified places of worship are potential itemized charitable tax deductions. Just make sure you can document your donation; put a check, not cash, in the collection plate.

Whatever way you spend this Sunday and regardless of what you spend, taxable or not, enjoy!

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