OFF-THE-CUFF

It’s time once again for all Minnesotans to shake off cold weather blues and embrace spring warmth. I’m ready. How about you? Buckle your seat belts and away we go.

Spring in Minnesota usually translates to higher taxes in some form or another because of politicians of both parties doing their part to nurture and grow state government anew.

It’s an annual rite. Our legislator/gardeners really do seem to enjoy watering and fertilizing and planting.

Out of curiosity right before the April 15 tax deadline this year, I read over Minnesota Revenue’s website to get a handle on the kinds of taxes and fees and surcharges many businesses have to pay to state government—in addition to individual taxes a business owner or employee must pay. Of course, these taxes and fees and surcharges in some way get passed on down to consumers, the real payers.

Minnesota Revenue’s website had a long list of business-related taxes that began with the fermented malt beverage tax, and also included the wine tax, distilled spirits tax, cigarette tax, tobacco tax, controlled substance tax, corporate franchise tax, dry cleaner fees, e-waste registration fee, metropolitan landfill fee, solid waste management tax, estate tax, fiduciary income tax, auto theft prevention surcharge, fire safety surcharge, firefighter relief surcharge, insurance premium tax, HMO premium tax, non-admitted insurance premium tax for direct procured insurance, non-admitted insurance premium tax for surplus lines brokers, lawful gambling tax, mineral taxes, MinnesotaCare taxes, deed tax, mortgage registry tax, partnership tax, petroleum tax, airflight property tax, contamination tax, property tax, railroad property tax, REA membership tax, S Corporation tax, sales and use tax, severed minerals tax, sports bookmaking tax, unrelated business income tax, untaxed gambling product, wind energy production tax, and withholding tax.

The most bizarre tax our state has is the controlled substances tax. I telephoned Minnesota Department of Revenue Special Taxes Division to learn more. An employee said the tax on 42.5 grams of marijuana—the minimum amount taxed—was $3.50 a gram. Very few people pay it, he said. No surprise there.


After reading the business taxes above, I was taken aback eyeing on Minnesota.gov all the state agencies, boards, departments, councils, and commissions these business taxes and others fund.

By listing all the operating units of state government below, I’m not in any fashion implying our state government is bloated or bad. Quite the contrary: I was surprised by the number of vital services our state actually provides for businesses, how those services require some level of revenue in order to operate, and how complex modern life has become.

Also, I’m not a budget expert, so I can’t opine on specific government inefficiencies; but at first read, for example, I did notice our state government has about ten different overlapping departments, councils, and commissions serving various people with disabilities.

So here goes the list. For starters, the State of Minnesota has a number of boards that help protect consumers from harm, such as the boards for Accountancy, Aging, Animal Health, Assessors, Barber Examiners, Behavioral Health and Therapy, Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure, Capitol Area Architectural and Planning, Chiropractic Examiners, Client Security, Cosmetologist Examiners Dietetics and Nutrition Practice, Emergency Medical Services Regulatory, Electricity, Environmental Quality, Examiners for Nursing Home Administrators, Gambling Control, Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation, Judicial Standards, Lawyers Professional Responsibility, Marriage and Family Therapy, Medical Practice, Minnesota Film and TV, Nursing, Pharmacy, Social Work, Teaching, Veterinary Medicine, Optometry, Peace Officer Standards and Training, Physical Therapy, Podiatric Medicine, Private Detective and Protective Agent Services, Psychology, Public Defense, State Designer Selection, Veterinary Medicine, and Water and Soil Resources.

In addition, the State of Minnesota operates the following departments, commissions, and other boards: Administration Department; Administrative Hearings Office; Agriculture Department; Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement; Amateur Sports Commission; Office of the State Archaeologist; Architecture, Engineering, Land Survey, Landscape Architecture, Geoscience and Interior Design Board; Minnesota Arts Board; Perpich Center for Arts Education; Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans; Assistive Technology; Attorney General; Council on Black Minnesotans; Minnesota State Board of Investment; Bureau of Criminal Apprehension; Chicano Latino Affairs Council; Clerk of Appellate Courts; State Climatology Office; Commerce Department; Corrections Department; Court System (Judicial Branch); Court of Appeals; CriMNet; Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities; Minnesota State Council on Disability; District Courts; Driver and Vehicle Services; Legislative Commission on the Economic Status of Women; Education Department; Electric Energy Task Force; Employment and Economic Development Department; Explore Minnesota; Finance Department; Fire Marshall; Minnesota Forest Resources Council; Governors Council Geographic Information; Minnesota Geological Survey; Geospatial Information Office; Governor & State Officials; Governor’s Cabinet; Governor’s Workforce Development Council; Office of Grants Management; Legislative Commission on Health Care Access; Health Department; Health Professionals Services Program; Health Technology Advisory Committee; Minnesota Office of Higher Education; Homeland Security and Emergency Management; Minnesota Housing Finance Agency; Human Rights Department; Human Services Department; Minnesota Humanities Commission; Minnesota Statewide Independent Living Council; Minnesota Indian Affairs Council; Department of Commerce/Insurance; Labor and Industry Department; Legislative Advisory Commission; Office of Legislative Auditor; Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources; Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement; Legislative Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy; Legislative Coordinating Commission; Legislative Reference Library; Legislature (Legislative Branch); License Minnesota; Minnesota State Lottery; Management Analysis and Development; Bureau of Mediation Services; Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities; Metropolitan Airports Commission; Metropolitan Council; Metropolitan Mosquito Control; Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission; Minnesota Commission Serving Deaf and Hard of Hearing People; Minnesota Management and Budget; Minnesota Office of Higher Education; Minnesota State Academies; Minnesota State Colleges and Universities; Minnesota State Law Library; Minnesota State Retirement System; Minnesota Sustainable Communities Network; Minnesota Trade Office; Minnesota Zoo; Minnesota’s Bookstore; Department of Natural Resources; Office of Energy Security; Office of Enterprise Technology; Ombudspersons for Families; Pipeline Safety; Pollution Control Agency; Public Safety Department; Public Employees Retirement Association; Racing Commission; Recovery; Renewable Energy; Revenue Department; Revisor of Statutes; Safety Council; Science Museum of Minnesota; Secretary of State; Sentencing Guidelines Commission; State Patrol; State Rehabilitation Council; State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind; Minnesota State Retirement Commission; Statewide Systems; Supreme Court; Surplus Services; Tax Court; Teachers Retirement Association; Tourism; Trade and Economic Development; Department of Transportation; University of Minnesota; Veterans Affairs Department; Minnesota Veterans Homes; Weights and Measures; and Workers Compensation Court of Appeals.

That’s all for this issue. For better or worse, you now know the state taxes many businesses have to pay and the state government programs these taxes bankroll—an appropriate and timely exercise given the recent April 15 state tax deadline. Thanks for reading southern Minnesota’s first and only locally owned business magazine, the only one reaching 8,700 business decision makers in nine counties. See you next issue!

Daniel Vance

A former Editor of Connect Business Magazine

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