Pass along a news tip by clicking HERE.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Ohio Tax Department: Pay Us To Pray At Funerals

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.

1 comment:

  1. Benjamin Franklin once said, "In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes. At least now, thanks to the internet, death doesn’t have to be as expensive.

    According to AARP, the average funeral in the United States can easily reach $10,000 once a burial plot, flowers and other costs are included.

    Educated consumers are no longer in the dark about how the funeral industry works. Big conglomerates are mercilessly buying up family-operated homes with their eyes solely on the bottom-line. Caskets alone average a 600% mark up. They may be the last example of a legal monopoly left in the United States. Mourners are literally gauged, as they haven’t the time or presence of mind to comparison shop.

    It has always been tradition to call upon the neighborhood funeral parlor, cemetery or monument dealer when a loved-one passes. But, due to the internet, that traditional is starting to change.

    MonumentsInStone is the sister company of Interstate Granite, a family-owned, monument manufacturer that has been in business in the Atlanta area since 1916. They have recently launched a website,, offering granite headstones, bronze markers and crematory products at a fraction of their retail price. "We have been there." Say the owner, Robert Womac. "And, we want to right an industry-wide wrong."

    MonumentsInStone supplies headstones and memorials directly to the consumer. Although cemeteries might not like this, they have to, by law, accept a stone from an outside source. The savings have been a blessing for many customers.

    The Funeral Consumers Alliance has many tips that should be followed when planning a funeral. They told us that savvy consumers need to shop around for a grave marker or monument. The Better Business Bureau also warns to resist high-priced sales pitches from funeral industry vendors. They should treat you with compassion; not pressure you.

    Perhaps, asking a friend or neighbor to work the phones or search the net would be a good idea. Even a check on Ebay has produced a number of beautiful choices. I found an elegant, Granite Companion Monument for a third of the price my funeral parlor was pitching. A Tombstone on Ebay? I emailed the highest bidder to find out why. "I’m sorry," He told me. " I see no reason to pay top dollar because of some outdated tradition."