How do you compare sales tax by state?


Quick Answer

The Council of State Governments lists state sales tax rates annually in a chapter on state finance in its "Book of States," available on its website. The table alerts users to relevant details for each state. Many states, for example, exempt food and prescription drugs from the sales tax.

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Full Answer

Other variables include sales tax holidays and sales taxes levied by local jurisdictions. The Federation of Tax Administrators maintains a schedule of tax holidays by state, according to the FTA website. The table includes live links to each state department of revenue. California's sales tax regulations are particularly complex. The sales tax rate is adjusted annually according to a budgeting formula, and a long list of towns, cities and counties levy additional sales taxes, the California Tax Service Center reports.

An increasingly urgent issue is the application of the sales tax to online interstate sales. Nolo.com, a website that compiles legal information, posts a guide to sales tax laws for Internet companies. The user can click on a state and be linked to an advisory article. Users are cautioned that state sales taxes are being debated at the federal level. The Marketplace Fairness Act is a proposal that encourages states to simplify their sales tax regulations for multi-state online vendors. Taxcloud, an organization of online retailers who are proponents of the proposal, maintains a website called MarketplaceFairnessAct.org that posts updated news about the act.

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