Paul L. Caron

Saturday, October 17, 2009

State & Local Sales Tax Rates

The Tax Foundation has released Updated Combined State and Local Sales Tax Rates.  Here are the ten states with the highest and lowest rates:






































New York






North Carolina









New Hampshire








Here are the rates in the fifty states and the District of Columbia:

Tax Foundation

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Based on Tax Foundation numbers for the end of September, TaxProf Blog maps the states by sales tax, and Tennessee, at a 9.41-percent statewide average, comes in at the top. (Four states New Hampshire, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana get... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2009 2:57:01 PM


True, but incomplete. We moved from Oregon to Tennessee a few years ago and I assure you that if you add in income and property taxes, those two states switch positions in terms of taxes.


Posted by: Ed Carlyle | Oct 17, 2009 5:42:34 AM

One problem with this analysis is that it does not consider what is taxed by the State. For example, Maryland's 6% exempts food; Virginia's 5% covers everything, including food.

Posted by: Joseph C. Bush | Oct 17, 2009 5:44:28 AM

Sorry, but the Wisconsin state sales tax is 5.5%.

Posted by: AllenS | Oct 17, 2009 5:58:56 AM

LA county in Calif. tax is currently 9.75% Some of the cities have additional sales tax on top of that, South Gate for instance, is 10.75%.

Posted by: Charlie | Oct 17, 2009 6:14:44 AM

I suspect that if one factored in the lack of a state income tax in Tennessee, the state would come in somewhere far down the line in overall taxes.

Posted by: Buster | Oct 17, 2009 6:27:05 AM

Um, I'd really like to see the numbers behind this. I live in Connecticut, and believe me our state and local taxes are killers.

Posted by: Mark | Oct 17, 2009 6:30:33 AM

I hope you didn't simply add up the income tax rate and the sales tax rate.
After all, sales taxes apply just to our purchases which are just a fraction of our income.
Also, I hope that the income tax rates were adjusted to reflect the fact that some states don't tax every dollar of income.
The chart does not mention either of these two points

Posted by: Gary Thomas | Oct 17, 2009 6:32:35 AM

Oops - I just realized that this is sales tax only... I'd like to see the states ranked by the totality of state/county/local taxes.

Posted by: Mark | Oct 17, 2009 6:35:32 AM

I bet stores in Oregon on the border with Washington do well! And Washington has no income tax, so people living in Washington and shopping in Oregon do well.

Posted by: Mark | Oct 17, 2009 6:41:50 AM

Now to really make some states stand out, add in property taxes. Illinois should jump to the top of the list then. MPW

Posted by: mpw280 | Oct 17, 2009 6:52:36 AM

That table needs to somehow mention which states lack an income tax. Washington state isn't exactly a low tax location, but the high sales tax looks much better when you realize that it has zero income tax. Poor California has no such excuse, of course.

Posted by: Brent Michael Krupp | Oct 17, 2009 6:59:33 AM

In Cook County IL, population greater than the entire Volunteer State (and their 0% income tax), the sales tax rate is just under 11%. The number of hidden sales taxes are stupifying. It has been entirely controlled by Democrats for generations.

Posted by: Cisco D'Anconia | Oct 17, 2009 7:09:07 AM

I would much rather see TOTAL state and local taxes. Sales, Income, Property etc. Sales taxes are just one part of the puzzle.

Posted by: Brad C | Oct 17, 2009 7:17:23 AM

Hawaii comes in with a 4.38% rate, however if you book a room or rent a car you'll pay 12%+. I'm thinking special taxes like that aren't averaged in.

Posted by: Jake | Oct 17, 2009 7:19:56 AM

California has the second highest tax rate and the largest state deficit, now in the $39 billion range. Those clowns in Sacramento really know how to spend our taxes.

And who elects and reelects these clowns.....we do, the people of California.

So I'll be moving to Costa Rica to escape the clowns and their co- dependent enablers. I'd rather watch the house burn down from across the street than be inside,,,wouldn't you?

Posted by: TacoBill | Oct 17, 2009 7:22:09 AM

I'm curious how they average that? Do they average that by district or per capita? Illinois has rather high sales taxes in areas where the majority of it's population is.

Posted by: C | Oct 17, 2009 7:26:14 AM

Tennessee, however, does not have a state income tax (except for interest/dividends)

Posted by: Bert M | Oct 17, 2009 7:35:39 AM

There are few small towns in Montana whose local economies depend on tourism that impose a sales tax. About 8 years ago in West Yellowstone the rate was around 3%. So shouldn't the state's average be a bit above 0%?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega | Oct 17, 2009 8:04:25 AM

Meaningless. My State, WA, has no income tax. CA has the highest income tax while 2nd in Sales tax. Combined, it is about 20%. Brutal. Add that to the income tax rate, plus SS/Medicare, and the rich surtax, etc, and they are over 75%. Time to call it the Soviet of CA.

Posted by: Marc Malone | Oct 17, 2009 8:14:07 AM

This stat is misleading, since it says nothing about the State income tax rates. TN doesn't have any while CA state income tax is one of the highest. A better metric would be the combined tax rate.

Posted by: Saxon | Oct 17, 2009 8:22:01 AM

Of limited value unless you somehow include property tax. Use median figures or something.

What good does it do me to live in a 0% state/sales tax state if they want to charge me $12K a year in property tax?

Posted by: Chester White | Oct 17, 2009 8:23:46 AM

I don't know about the others--but Tennessee doesn't have an income tax. That would make a huge difference.

Posted by: kentuckyliz | Oct 17, 2009 8:59:53 AM

I pay a combined state and local sales tax of 8.25% in Harris County, Texas. Why didn't that make the list?

Posted by: Darrell Hancock | Oct 17, 2009 9:01:10 AM

To be fair to the Volunteer State, Tennessee does not have a state income tax. Thus, although its sales tax rates are the highest, I would hazard a guess that the total tax rate it burdens its citizens with is far below that of California, Washington, Illinois or New York (and even Hawaii).

Posted by: Dave M. | Oct 17, 2009 9:05:28 AM

Do you know of any comparison of the total tax bite (all state and local taxes) imposed by the various states? Thank you.

Posted by: Marv Voskuhl | Oct 17, 2009 9:22:12 AM

Thanks for the link to the tax foundation and their explanation of their averages. I consider those averages misleading for the complicated way they're calculated, especially the personal income weighting. It may work for small states, but for large, populous states with a Byzantine tax structure and wide disparities in personal income like California, the result doesn't mean much.

I live in San Diego and pay 8.75%. The basic rate is 7.25%, to which the legislature added 1% for local jurisdictions, to replace money taken to sort of balance the state budget. San Diego County adds a half-percent for local transportation. Other counties can add a half-percent for other local uses.

Those voter-approved half-percent surcharges vary so much that an overall average is meaningless, unless you want to rank the states in the most general way. The Tax Foundation would have done better to rank the states strictly on the basic statewide rate, and included a high-low range within each state. A few selected cities would help us decide where not to go for vacation, at least.

Posted by: Larry Faria | Oct 17, 2009 10:31:08 AM

Tennessee has the highest sales tax because it is our primary source of revenue. The only personal income we tax are certain types of investment dividends and income. There have been various proposals to lower the sales tax and enact a personal income tax, but frankly, the voters don't trust the politicians to give then another revenue source. Their track record for spending money has long confirmed the voters' mistrust.

Posted by: Larry Patty | Oct 17, 2009 10:32:11 AM

Just a reminder that this data can be a little misleading without information about state income tax rates. For example, based on the above table you'd think that Washington state was as greedy as California. But Washington state has _no_ income tax. California ... well, they do. Oregon has 0% sales tax but does have an income tax. Etc.

Posted by: David Bakin | Oct 17, 2009 11:15:23 AM

Of course the big question here is how many other of these high sales-tax states (other than Tennessee) have no income tax?

Posted by: Robert Roy | Oct 17, 2009 1:04:11 PM

A bit myopic.
For example, WA has no income tax. So, of course, its sales tax will be high.
Conversely, OR has no sales tax. So, its income tax is probably high.

Posted by: Borris | Oct 17, 2009 3:38:37 PM

add income tax to the numbers.

Posted by: jim | Oct 17, 2009 3:48:47 PM

I see the gaggle of corrupt clowns in California come in number 2. That is one sad state.

Posted by: J. | Oct 17, 2009 7:41:36 PM

One thing of interest is that the states that pretend to care about "the poor" have the highest sales taxes, which are regressive.

Posted by: Woody | Oct 18, 2009 2:18:14 PM

The table is entitled "State & Local Sales Tax Rates". Does it surprise you that it doesn't include property and income taxes?

State income taxes paid per capita
State income tax rates
This link allows you to query an individual state's tax and spending status, but comparisons between states are more difficult.

Posted by: BDaleR | Oct 18, 2009 8:22:15 PM

Some advice for those who don't like California: Leave or please don't come. We can do without you.
Yes our politicians are dumb/stupid/corrupt but so are our voters.
Please remember we are a referendum/recall/voter intiative state with a requirement for a supermajority to pass a budget or to raise taxes.
Those of you in other states let this be a warning not to follow our lead.

Posted by: dilbert dogbert | Oct 20, 2009 12:33:32 PM