Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving Tax Take: 35.9 Percent

Annual meal taxes give Uncle Sam something to give thanks for.

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American families, poor to rich, won't be the only ones giving thanks around the dining room table Thursday: A grinning Uncle Sam will be saying "thank you" for spending heavily on the annual big meal that fattens the Treasury coffers with billions of dollars of taxes. [Read: 2010 Turkeys Pardoned By Obama Died This Year.]

According to Americans for Tax Reform, the government gobbles up $3.6 billion in added Thanksgiving day taxes on everything from the turkey itself to beer, wine, and gas. Overall, the tax hit on Thursday's feast is 35.9 percent.

Here is how ATR figures it:

Government tax bite: 44.3% of the cost of each case of beer, 32.8% of each bottle of wine, 45.3% of each gallon of gas, $43.57 of an average airline ticket, and 35.9% of overall expenses.

Of an identified $10 billion in spending that occurs during Thanksgiving weekend on the wine and beer, the gas and plane tickets, and the meal itself, government taxation composes 35.9 percent of those expenses—approximately $3.6 billion in revenues.[Bachmann’s Thanksgiving: Cheap Bird and ‘Turkey Bingo’.]

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, this year's Thanksgiving meal for ten increased in cost by $5.73 to a total of $49.20—mostly due to rising food prices. Despite the most significant increase in food costs since 1990, government taxation still gobbles up $13.68 of your meal preparations.

This measure does not account for beer and wine consumption. Between football games and meals, nearly 53 million cases of beer are consumed. Government collects $219 million in taxes—44.3 percent of the cost of each case. Thanksgiving attendees will also find it hard to be grateful for the 32.8 percent increase in the cost of each bottle of wine thanks to government. [Best Cities to Visit This Thanksgiving.]

Whether you fly or drive to be with your loved ones this Thanksgiving season, government heavily taxes your preferred mode of transportation. Of the 94 percent of travelers driving their cars, government will raise an estimated $1.1 billion in tax revenue—45.3 percent of the gasoline price tag. Similarly, government also increases the cost of the average $376 Thanksgiving flight, making up $43.57 of each ticket's price.

Many of these Thanksgiving items are subject to the increased costs of income taxes, payroll taxes, corporate income taxes, and other taxes on business activity. Government then includes additional fees and excise taxes that further increase the cost of providing specific items or services.