COLUMBUS (TDB) -- Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland warns a budget crunch is coming next year, and the Department of Taxation has started digging for every penny it can find. The agency has proposed an AMENDMENT to the rules governing funerals that makes it clear Ohio gets a cut for "guest books and prayer cards" used at burial ceremonies. The action proves the old saw: There is no escape from death and taxes.
Plans for revised regs on funeral taxes were issued recently and, among other details, they stress that if a body goes to the great beyond from Ohio wearing a new suit or fresh dress, the state gets to collect its sales tax on the clothing when the funeral home hands a bill to the departed's kin. Caskets are covered, too. But for some reason pine boxes have an exemption if they are furnished with the casket.
So why the grab for lucre from prayer cards, clothing and flowers?
"The tax commissioner is taking this action to modernize the existing rules to more accurately reflect existing funeral practices. The amendment also revises the treatment of limousine service provided as part of a funeral transaction to more accurately reflect the fact that tax is imposed on the intrastate transportation of persons," the tax department said in its notice of the rule revisions.
"The amendment gives examples of what constitutes personal services subject to the tax and what services are not. The amended rule clarifies when the mortician or funeral director is a retailer (must collect and remit the sales tax) and when the mortician or funeral director is the consumer (and must pay the tax directly.)"
That means the funeral director pays for transportation "of the remains" while the mourners pay for "limousine service if entirely within Ohio."
What else is taxable? Urns, and containers for ashes. And it looks like Ohio has its hand out for a piece of the cash honorarium undertakers traditionally slip to clergy members who preach a few kind words about the deceased.
Amen. And that will be 6.5 cents on a dollar.