Definitions

sales tax

sales tax

sales tax, levy on the sale of goods or services, generally calculated as a percentage of the selling price, and sometimes called a purchase tax. It is usually collected in the form of an extra charge by the retailer, who remits the tax to the government. It may be levied each time a commodity changes hands—as from manufacturer to wholesaler, from wholesaler to retailer—and is then called a transactions, or turnover, tax. Many oppose the tax as being regressive, i.e., as placing a disproportionately heavy burden on the poor; but it yields a large revenue, and governments find it easy to collect. As of 1999, 45 states, the District of Columbia, a number of cities and counties, and many foreign countries levied sales taxes. A modern variant of the sales tax is the value-added tax.
In the U.S. state of Georgia, a special-purpose local-option sales tax (SPLOST) can be levied by any county, for the purpose of funding the building and maintenance of parks, schools, roads, and other public facilities. Georgia's state sales tax is currently 4% (groceries and prescription drugs exempted), with the counties allowed to add up to 2% more for SPLOST. A SPLOST is passed by a county commission and voted up or down by residents in a referendum, usually during the next scheduled election. A SPLOST only lasts five years. At that time, if the funds are still needed, it must be voted upon again. All expenditures of SPLOST funds must be in compliance with Article VIII, Section VI, Paragraph IV of the Georgia Constitution and Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A.) 48-8-141.

  • One SPLOST (1%) may be used to increase the homestead exemption for property taxes.
  • A SPLOST is not required to exempt groceries, but still cannot be applied to prescriptions.
  • Cities are normally not allowed to levy sales taxes, they instead share proportionately with their county.
  • Since 2004, Atlanta charges a city sales tax of 1% to separate and repair its old sewers and storm drains.
  • Like the sewer tax, the MARTA sales tax is separate and not considered a SPLOST.

Counties and school systems are required to provide an independent accountants' report, examining the way the funds were allocated and attesting to the fact that the system receiving funds managed those funds appropriately.

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