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U.S. Sales Tax Rates Hit Record High
William P. Barrett
March 8, 2010
While President Obama’s push to raise federal income taxes for the wealthy gets lots of attention, the continuing upward creep in the sales tax rates imposed by state and local governments has gotten less notice.
But Vertex Inc., which calculates sales tax for Internet sellers, reports that the average general sales tax rate nationwide reached 8.629% at the end of 2009, the highest since the Berwyn, Pa., company started tracking data in 1982. That was up a nickel on a taxable $100 purchase from a year earlier and up nearly 40 cents for the decade. The highest sales tax rate in the country now stands at 12%.
During 2009 seven states and the District of Columbia raised sales tax rates, with one jurisdiction–North Carolina–actually doing it twice. Only four states hiked rates in 2008 and only one in 2007. Given state budget problems, the 2009 state sales tax increases aren’t surprising. States have also been raising income tax rates on the wealthyand on corporations and boosting excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco. With states now facing record budget shortfalls, more tax increases seem likely.
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