The average U.S. state sales tax rate increased to a record average of 5.52 percent in the first nine months of 2010, the highest level since at least 1982, according to a new report.

The average rate of 5.52 percent marks the highest average U.S. state sales tax rate since tax software developer Vertex started tracking the data that year. States, districts, counties, and cities have continued to raise taxes this year in response to budget deficits. 

In the nine month period from January to September 2010, three states increased their sales tax rates. Arizona increased its rate to 6.6 percent from 5.6 percent, Kansas increased its rate to 6.3 percent from 5.3 percent, and New Mexico increased its rate to 5.125 percent from 5.0 percent. California remains the state with the highest state sales tax rate, 7.25 percent. Indiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Tennessee have the second highest rate, at 7.0 percent.

However, Vertex’s nine-month Sales Tax Rate Report found that the average county tax rate for the first nine months of 2010 is down slightly at 1.5450 percent, compared to 1.5480 percent in the same period of 2009. The average city rate increased modestly to 1.6580 percent, compared to 1.6490 percent in the first nine months of 2009. 

The highest city sales tax rate is found in Wrangell, Alaska (7 percent).  The highest combined sales tax rate of 13.725 percent is found in Tuba City (including the surrounding areas in the To’Nanees’ Dizi Local Government), Coconino County, Ariz. The average combined sales tax rate (including special purpose tax districts) is 9.642 percent.

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