Have you ever gone to the store, bought something, looked at your receipt and said to yourself, “This item only cost $25, why did I pay $28 for it?” Well $3 was due to sales tax, which many people STILL fail to mentally figure in before going to the register. You may gasp and think to yourself, “Gosh, this amount is really high.” Well you were probably in a state that relies heavily on sales tax for revenue.
According to a study by the Tax Foundation in 2017, sales tax is the second largest source of state and local tax revenue behind property taxes .
Most states have a layered system of sales tax, which includes a state portion, a county portion, and then local sales taxes. Eight states administer a sales tax only at the state level, but not the local level: Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Rhode Island. And of the 50 United States, there are 5 which do not levy a state sales tax at all: the “NOMAD” states of New Hampshire, Oregon, Montana, Alaska and Delaware. Note that Alaska does allow local sales tax to be levied.
In this article, we explore various states and how their sales tax rates compare. We also take a look at which states are most dependent on sales tax revenue. As many states are beginning to take stock of the toll the Covid-19 pandemic is taking in terms of sheer dollar cost at the state and local levels, it’s an interesting time to consider where funding is going to come from.