California was the only state to change its sales tax rate in the first quarter of the year, spurring a host of changes in local sales taxes across the state, according to a new report.
The ONESOURCE Indirect Tax report from Thomson Reuters found state-level sales and use tax rates remained unchanged in most of the rest of the country despite a slight increase in the U.S. average combined sales tax rate in the first quarter of 2016. In California, though, it was a different story. California lowered the state sales tax rate from 6.5 to 6.25 percent, albeit with a matching increase of 0.25 percent in local tax rates. Those moves ushered in an unusually large number of tax amendments in city and county jurisdictions across California, contributing to the overall nationwide increment in the average combined sales tax rate from 8.571 percent in Q4 2015 to 8.579 percent in Q1 2016.
City tax jurisdictions were the busiest in Q1, with a total of 542 indirect tax rate changes, of which nearly 90 percent took place in California. Similarly, 79 counties amended their sales and use tax rates, with almost three-quarters of those taking place in California.
“Apart from the busy tax activities in California, much of the sales and use tax figures around the country stayed relatively stable,” said Carla Yrjanson, vice president of tax research and content at Thomson Reuters, in a statement. “However, even small changes can have a significant impact on revenue if not accounted for properly. Business leaders must keep a vigilant eye on changes that potentially affect the jurisdictions in which they do business.”
The five localities with the highest combined sales tax rates included Tuba City, Ariz. (12.9 percent), Arab, Ala. (12.5 percent), Piedmont, Ala. (12.5 percent), Sunset, Ark. (12.25 percent) and Coconino, Ariz. (11.9 percent).
Once again, Indiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Tennessee tied for the highest state sales tax rate at 7.0 percent, followed by Minnesota (6.875 percent) and Nevada (6.85 percent). The average state-level sales tax dropped to 5.535 percent from 5.539 percent in Q4 2015, yet Puerto Rico remains an outlier with a sales tax rate of 10.5 percent.
At the county level, Wrangell, Alaska, remains the highest-taxing jurisdiction for the last several quarters at 7.0 percent, followed by Petersburg, Alaska (6.0 percent), and 11 other counties throughout Alaska, Alabama, Colorado and Louisiana at 5 percent. The average county sales tax rates dropped to 1.259 percent in Q1, from 1.26 in Q4 2015.
Approximately 11 Alaskan cities registered the highest city sales tax rates ranging from 6.0 to 7.0 percent. The average city sales tax rates rose from 1.772 percent in Q4 2015 to 1.785 percent this quarter.
Worldwide, Barbados and Italy introduced special rates of 22 percent and 12.5 percent, respectively, effective Jan. 1, 2016, while the same tax rate dropped from 24 to 21percent in Pakistan. Cape Verde, Sri Lanka and Fiji’s standard tax rates decreased to 15 percent, 8 percent and 9 percent, respectively, and Burkina Faso introduced its own standard tax rate at 8 percent. Dominican Republic and Norway’s reduced rates rose to 16 and 10 percent, respectively, while the same rate reduced to 12.5 percent in Trinidad and Tobago.
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