5 Ways to Calculate Sales Tax

An additional 1% on top of the general state rate (totaling 6.3%) is applied in Charlotte County, Danville, Gloucester County, Halifax County, Henry County, Northampton County, and Patrick County. Since the 1990s, groceries (packaged foods not intended for on-premises consumption) are exempt from the state sales tax, but still subject to the local sales tax rate. Since the early 2010s, items prepared in grocery stores (even those without cafés), such as fresh bread from the bakery, are taxed as if they were not grocery items, despite clearly being basic needs for consumption at home. Sales tax returns typically report all sales, taxable sales, sales by category of exemption, and the amount of tax due. Where multiple tax rates are imposed (such as on different classes of property sold), these amounts are typically reported for each rate. Some states combine returns for state and local sales taxes, but many local jurisdictions require separate reporting.

Purchasers of goods who have not paid sales tax in their own jurisdiction must file use tax returns to report taxable purchases. Many states permit such filing for individuals as part of individual income tax returns. Telecommunications services are subject to a tax similar to a sales tax in most states. Only a few states tax internet access or other information services.


HST operates mostly in the same manner as GST, in that consumers generally bear the burden for paying this tax, and businesses both collect and pay the HST but have the HST reimbursed on eligible purchases when remitting taxes to the government. The Sales Tax Institute keeps an updated list of the range of sales taxes in every US state. While you can go down an online rabbit hole trying to figure out whether you’ll owe 3% or 3.5% sales tax, you might want to just use the high end of the tax range. No one is ever disappointed to pay less than they expected. You must collect sales tax at Cuyahoga County’s rate of 8.00% (state sales tax of 5.75% + Cuyahoga County rate of 2.25%; Cleveland does not have a city sales tax).

Each state has a different sales tax amount, and many cities and counties charge an additional sales tax. Here’s how much sales tax you can expect to pay in each state. Wisconsin has a 5% state sales tax, with all but 10 of 72 counties assessing their own 0.5% sales tax, mainly in order to finance county financing efforts, including county highway maintenance.

  • You spend less time figuring out how to handle sales taxes and spend more time making sales.
  • In Texas, prescription medicine and food seeds are exempt from taxation.
  • Telecommunications services are subject to a tax similar to a sales tax in most states.
  • Many states provide a day or weekend where consumers can shop without paying sales tax.
  • The logic behind this debate is that income tax appears on your payslip as a reduction of your salary, thus eventually you have less money that you could devote for savings.
  • A “discretionary sales surtax” may be imposed by the counties of up to 2.5%, charged at the rate of the destination county (if shipped).

Most jurisdictions exempt food sold in grocery stores, prescription medications, and many agricultural supplies. Value-added tax (VAT) systems levy consumption taxes on goods and services at every stage of the supply chain where value is added. Unlike a conventional sales tax, which is usually charged as a percentage of a retail purchase, a value-added tax is calculated according to the cost of a product minus the costs of materials in the product that have previously been taxed.

Find out how much sales tax your state charges

Sales tax is a tax imposed on customers when they purchase products and services. It is a pass-through tax, meaning you collect it from customers and remit it to your state or local government. For many businesses, collecting sales tax is a mandatory part of selling goods and providing services.

How do I calculate the amount of sales tax that is included in total receipts?

Compared to sales tax, VAT has the ability to raise more revenue at a given rate. On the other hand, VAT tends to be regressive; that is, it takes proportionately greater amounts from those with lower incomes. Also, the cascading tax is harmful to new and marginal business activities, likely to set off inflationary tendencies, and is detrimental to exports. For more information about or to do calculations involving VAT, please visit the VAT Calculator. To demonstrate the diversity of sales taxes in the United States, you can find more details about the applied sales taxes in U.S. states in the following table. Besides, you can check when the different states introduced the sales tax and if there is an exemption or reduced rate on sales of food.

Collect an additional $31.92 from the customer for sales tax. Then, remit the sales tax to the appropriate government. If your business has nexus in several locations, you might need to collect and remit sales tax for other states, too. Nexus occurs when your business has a presence in a state.

Taxable items

Because sales tax can vary by state and by item, it can be difficult to predict exactly how much you’ll pay, but not nearly as hard to get a general idea. First of all, if you’re shopping in New Hampshire, Oregon, Montana, Alaska, or Delaware, static budgets are often used by the sticker price will be the total price. Throughout the U.S., there are also specific weekends or days when sales tax is suspended on certain items, such as electronics, school supplies, appliances, and other types of tools.

Since higher savings contribute to higher investment, relying more on consumption tax may favor a higher rate of economic growth. These issues become more relevant if we take into consideration the significant contribution of sales taxes to state revenues and the current transformation of the economy. It is not surprising then that recent studies have begun to address these problems and examine the possibility of a nation-wide introduced federal VAT or another consumption-based tax which may coexist with the state-level sales tax. To determine how much sales tax to charge, multiply your customer’s total bill by the sales tax rate. You have nexus if you store inventory, have employees, use a third-party provider to ship orders to customers, or attend a trade show in a state with sales tax. Understand origin vs. destination sales tax laws to determine whether you collect sales tax using your primary or secondary state’s tax rate.

States imposing sales tax either impose the tax on retail sellers, such as with Transaction Privilege Tax in Arizona,[3] or impose it on retail buyers and require sellers to collect it. In either case, the seller files returns and remits the tax to the state. In states where the tax is on the seller, it is customary for the seller to demand reimbursement from the buyer. Sellers generally must collect tax from in-state purchasers unless the purchaser provides an exemption certificate.

Indirect taxes are collected by the people who sell goods or services. These include shop owners and business people, who then further pay the indirect tax to the government. While there are many complexities and nuances to the exemptions, generally items that are deemed necessities (such as basic groceries), essential services (such as health, legal aid, and childcare), and charitable activities are nontaxable. You can find a complete listing of exemptions on the Canada Revenue Agency website at

But keep in mind you have to itemize your deductions to take the SALT deduction, and itemizing doesn’t make sense for everyone. A trusted tax pro, such as a CPA, or quality tax software can help you get clarity on your particular situation. Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us.

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