The Internal Revenue Service has updated for three states the tables that taxpayers can use to determine whether they'll benefit from deducting sales tax rather than state and local income taxes.

The agency updated the optional sales tax tables in Publication 600 for Arkansas, California and Virginia. The tables, which give taxpayers a sales tax deduction amount as an alternative to saving receipts throughout the year and tabulating the amount actually paid, were updated to reflect sales tax changes made by the three states during 2004; the original tables were based on the states' sales tax rates as of Jan. 1, 2004.

The IRS said that it made the update before any of the tables were mailed to taxpayers in Arkansas, California or Virginia. The updated tables are available at The agency will mail the updated Publication 600 to taxpayers in the affected states this week.

The IRS said that the impact of the table change is relatively small, since the sales tax figures were adjusted by a small amount and since the affected states have income taxes, which means that most taxpayers residing in those states won't use the sales tax tables but will claim a state income tax deduction instead.

The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 authorized the sales tax deduction as an option for those who itemize deductions, letting them choose between deductions for state and local income or sales taxes for tax years 2004 and 2005 only. Taxpayers will indicate by a checkbox on Line 5 of Schedule A which type of tax they're claiming.

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