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Oklahoma Sales Tax Law Deconstructed


A recent opinion issued by the Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General deconstructs how sales taxes are imposed within the state.

The opinion responds to three questions raised by State Representative Mike Ritze. When the voters of a county or municipality have approved a sales tax for a specific purpose and period of time:

  1. Can the purpose for which a tax was imposed be modified by the county or municipality without submitting the change to a vote of the people?
  2. Can the time period for which the tax is to be imposed be extended without submitting the extension to a vote of the people?
  3. Can the county or municipality governing body submit to a vote of the people a measure levying a tax that will not be levied until after the expiration of the terms of office of the governing body members?

The Office of the Attorney General responds:

Can the purpose for which a tax was imposed be modified by the county or municipality without submitting the change to a vote of the people?

No. Section 1370 of Title 37 of the Oklahoma Statues stipulates that "[a]ny county … may levy a sales tax. … Before a sales tax may be levied by the county, the imposition of the tax shall first be approved by a majority of the registered voters of the county… ." Likewise, towns and cities may levy a sales tax "for limited purposes specified in the ordinance levying the tax. Such ordinance shall be submitted to the voters for approval" pursuant to Section 2705 of Title 68. (Emphasis added.)

The official opinion of the Attorney General is that "any modification in the purpose of a tax already imposed may be authorized only by vote of the people residing within the taxing jurisdiction. OKLA. CONST. art. X, § 19; 68 O.S.2011, §§ 1370, 2701."

Can the time period for which the tax is to be imposed be extended without submitting the extension to a vote of the people?

The Oklahoma Constitution states that "no tax levied and collected for one purpose shall ever be devoted to another purpose." Section 1370 of Title 68, Subsection E clarifies that "in no event shall the life of the tax be extended beyond the duration approved by the voters of the county."

The official opinion of the Attorney General is that "any modification in the time period of a tax already imposed may be authorized only by vote of the people residing within the taxing jurisdiction. OKLA. CONST. art. X, § 19; 68 O.S.2011, §§ 1370, 2701."

Can the county or municipality governing body submit to a vote of the people a measure levying a tax that will not be levied until after the expiration of the terms of office of the governing body members?

The official opinion of the Attorney General is that there is "no constitutional or statutory restriction placed upon the ability of a board of county commissioners or the governing body of a municipality to submit for approval of the voters residing the taxing jurisdiction, the levying of a tax which will not be levied until after the expiration of terms of office of the governing body's members."

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Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.