In an arcane bit of tax history dating back to the Great Depression, 26 states allow retailers to keep a little of the sales tax they collect as a sort of handling fee—at a total cost of $1 billion per year in lost revenue! Thirteen of those 26 states do not cap the amount any retailer can keep, so mega-retailer Wal-Mart alone pockets an estimated $60 million a year. The biggest losers are Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, Virginia, Ohio, New York, and Georgia—each loses more than $50 million a year. See Skimming the Sales Tax.
See the Big Giveaway Index, our compilation of the most egregious scams and risky subsidies.