The legality of aerial fireworks in Pennsylvania was added to the October 2017 state budget, HB 542. But there is one catch, an added sales tax on firework purchases in the Keystone State.

The Class C fireworks used to fund special higher state spending hit Pennsylvanians with an added 12% sales tax – the highest in America. Yes, you read that right.  Pennsylvania has a 6% sales tax on goods and a fireworks tax of 12%, for a grand total of 18% in sales tax. In some places in Pennsylvania, such as Allegheny County with a local sales tax of 1%, consumers in this county have to pay almost 20% in taxes for fireworks this year.

This added sales tax pushes consumers to other states, such as Ohio where there are no added taxes on fireworks.  The neighboring state of West Virginia also has the added 12% sales tax on fireworks. 

With aerial fireworks legal in the state, more Pennsylvanians are stocking up on the big displays.  Average patriotic customers spend $250-$300 for their use, while large display kits cost up to $800. 

In 2017, American consumers spent $885 million on fireworks.  Lawmakers in Pennsylvania know consumers will purchase fireworks during the holiday season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, using this tax to boost revenue for the state.   

But will lawmakers see their intended results?  Pa. Independent Fiscal Office projected this added sales tax would total $2.5 million in additional revenue for the Keystone State.  In addition, HB 542 increased the annual fee to operate a permanent facility to $10,000, doubling from last year’s fee.  The Pa. IFO estimated an additional $500,000 revenue in these fees. 

Revenue in West Virginia hasn’t been as promising.  With the same sales tax of 12%, the state only brought in $778,796 in 2017.  Lawmakers expected this tax to bring in $2.1 million, but received less than a third.  States like Indiana and Georgia, on the other hand, have a lower fireworks and sales tax see more revenue. 

This tax hike by the Wolf Administration has targeted patriotic Pennsylvanians this holiday season, with little hopes of raising enough revenue to pay for a growing list of government programs. So this Fourth of July, enjoy your over-taxed fireworks and remember the Founding Fathers who fought for life, liberty, and the pursuit of reasonably priced freedom.