The average combined sales tax rates across the nation hit a record 8.587 percent over 2004, which fueled some 764 tax rate changes, according to the 2004 Sales Tax Rate Report. The report, released by Vertex, a provider of tax technology solutions headquartered here, said that although 237 new rates were established over the course of 2004, the year also saw a record number of decreases, 160, the highest figure since 1996. Other findings included: o- Three states had state rate increases. Arkansas went from 5.125 percent to 6 percent, California went from 6 percent to 6.25 percent, and Virginia went from 3.5 percent to 4 percent. o- Mississippi, Tennessee and Rhode Island have the highest state sales tax rates, at 7 percent. The average sales tax rate is 5.318 percent. o - Wrangell, Alaska, has the highest city sales tax rate, at 7 percent. The average city sales tax rate is 1.583 percent. o- Arab, Ala., was the jurisdiction with the highest combined sales tax rate of 12 percent. The average combined rate is 8.587. The Vertex Sales Tax Rate Report provides a summary of sales tax rate changes at the state, county, city and district levels nationwide. It is available online at www.vertexinc.com.

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