Sales taxes in the United States

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State & Local Sales Taxes (2021)
Median household income and taxes
State & local sales taxes average

Sales taxes in the United States are taxes placed on the sale or lease of goods and services in the United States. Sales tax is governed at the state level and no national general sales tax exists. 45 states, the District of Columbia, the territories of Puerto Rico, and Guam impose general sales taxes that apply to the sale or lease of most goods and some services, and states also may levy selective sales taxes on the sale or lease of particular goods or services. States may grant local governments the authority to impose additional general or selective sales taxes.

As of 2017, 5 states (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon) do not levy a statewide sales tax.[1] California has the highest base sales tax rate, 7.25%. Including county and city sales taxes, the highest total sales tax is in Arab, Alabama, 13.50%.[2]

Sales tax is calculated by multiplying the purchase price by the applicable tax rate. The seller collects it at the time of the sale. Use tax is self-assessed by a buyer who has not paid sales tax on a taxable purchase. Unlike the value added tax, a sales tax is imposed only at the retail level. In cases where items are sold at retail more than once, such as used cars, the sales tax can be charged on the same item indefinitely.

The definitions of retail sales and taxable items vary among the states. Nearly all jurisdictions provide numerous categories of goods and services that are exempt from sales tax, or taxed at reduced rates. The purchase of goods for further manufacture or for resale is uniformly exempt from sales tax. Most jurisdictions exempt food sold in grocery stores, prescription medications, and many agricultural supplies.

Sales taxes, including those imposed by local governments, are generally administered at the state level. States imposing sales tax either impose the tax on retail sellers, such as with Transaction Privilege Tax in Arizona,[3] or impose it on retail buyers and require sellers to collect it. In either case, the seller files returns and remits the tax to the state. In states where the tax is on the seller, it is customary for the seller to demand reimbursement from the buyer. Procedural rules vary widely. Sellers generally must collect tax from in-state purchasers unless the purchaser provides an exemption certificate. Most states allow or require electronic remittance.

  1. ^ Bowman, Jeremy (16 August 2014). "The 5 States With No Sales Tax". The Motley Fool. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  2. ^ "Arab, Alabama: Winner of Highest Sales Tax Rate - Avalara". Taxrates. Retrieved 2019-08-06.
  3. ^ "Transaction Privilege Tax (TPT)". Arizona Department of Revenue. July 12, 2017.

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