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California State Sales Tax Rate Still the Highest


According to the recent release of Tax Foundation’s State and Local Sales Taxes in 2012, “California, despite a 1 percent reduction in its sales tax rate that took effect July 1, 2011, still has the highest state-level rate at 7.25 percent.” The rate noted by Tax Foundation includes a mandatory local sales tax rate of 1 percent, making the state-only portion of the rate 6.25 percent.

However, the results have been reported on in conflicting ways:

  • The LA Times: "California's sales tax rate not the nation's highest...";
  • KMJNOW.com says, "California's 12th Highest Sales Tax..."; and
  • The Sacramento Bee says, "California state sales tax rate highest, but overall rate ranks 12th."

Apparently, all these interpretations are correct. If you take the state-only portion of the statewide sales tax rate (6.25 percent), then California actually has a lower state-only portion of the state sales tax rate than Washington State, which is at 6.5 percent. However, using the statewide rate that includes a mandatory local rate of 1 percent, 7.25 percent is one of the highest rates in the nation.

But regardless of the state-only rate, the Sacramento Bee reports, "...a few jurisdictions [have an] overall rate [that] approaches 10 percent, according to data from the state Board of Equalization."

Currently Governor Jerry Brown has a tax increase of one-half percent on the docket for voter approval in November.

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Avalara Author
Susan McLain
Avalara Author Susan McLain
Susan McLain began her career as a technical writer in technology industries such as satellite networking and medical devices. Her skills encompass technical and marketing writing, usability engineering, verification and validation testing and protocol writing, requirements development, business analysis, technical illustration/graphic design and marketing. She has owned her own business providing service to small to medium sized business and in other positions, she has been in project management, documentation and marketing. She is currently the content specialist for Avalara helping to “make sales tax less taxing.”