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A voter’s guide to tax-related ballot measures

  • Nov 8, 2016 | Gail Cole

 Many proposed tax changes are on state and local ballots.

Updated 11.9.2016, 12:08 p.m. If no result is listed, the race is too close to call at this time.

No matter what happens at the national level, the fate of numerous state and local transaction taxes will be determined today, November 8. Tax-related measures pertaining to marijuana, soda, tobacco, and more are on ballots from California to Maine. If approved by popular vote, they could create tax compliance challenges for many businesses.

Read on for a voter’s guide to some of this election’s most highly anticipated tax-related ballot measures, and check back after the election to learn the results.

Lodging taxes

Laguna Beach, California Measure LL would increase transient occupation tax by 2%.

San Diego, California is considering a couple of lodging taxes:

  • Measure C would increase the hotel tax from 12.5% to 16.5% to generate revenue to expand a convention center and build a new football stadium (but eliminate a 2% tourism marketing district assessment on some hotels). Defeated.
  • Measure D would increase the city’s hotel occupancy tax by up to an additional 5%. Defeated.

Sonoma County, California Measure L would increase the county’s transient occupancy tax by 3%. Approved.


Arizona: Proposition 205 would legalize the possession and consumption of recreational marijuana and tax retail marijuana sales at a rate of 15%. Defeated (with 98% reporting).

California: Proposition 64 would legalize the possession and use of marijuana for recreational use and impose an excise tax of $9.52 per ounce for flowers and $2.74 per ounce for leaves. In addition, an excise tax of 15% would be levied on the retail selling price. Approved.

Maine: Question 1 seeks to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana; sales would be taxed at a rate of 10%. Too close to call.

Massachusetts: Question 4 seeks to legalize marijuana for recreational use; the state sales tax and an additional 3.75% excise tax would apply, and cities and towns could impose a separate tax of up to 2%. Approved.

Nevada: Question 2 would legalize the cultivation, consumption, possession or purchase of certain amounts of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia, and impose a 15% tax on marijuana sales by cultivation facilities. In addition, there would be steep annual licensing fees. Approved.

Oregon: Several communities in Clackamas County, Multnomah County, and Washington County, are seeking to tax sales of recreational marijuana.

San Diego, California: If California approves the legalization of recreational marijuana (Proposition 64), Measure N would gradually raise the gross receipts tax on non-medical marijuana to 15%. Approved.

Soda taxes

Albany, California: Measure 01 seeks a 1-cent-per-ounce general tax on the distribution of sugar sweetened beverages and sweeteners used to sweeten such drinks. Approved.

Boulder, Colorado: Ordinance No. 8230 seeks a 2-cents-per-ounce tax on the distribution of drinks with added sugar, and sweeteners used to produce such drinks. Approved.

Oakland, California: Measure HH would impose a 1-cent-per-ounce general tax on the distribution of sugar-sweetened beverages. Approved.

San Francisco, California: Proposition V would levy a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on all soda and sugary beverages. Approved.

Read more about soda taxes here.

State sales tax

Missouri has a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would prohibit extending sales tax to any services not currently subject to tax (Constitutional Amendment 4). Approved.

Missouri would also continue a one-tenth of one percent sales and use tax for soil and water conservation for another 10 years (Constitutional Amendment 1). Approved.

Nevada is considering a sales and use tax exemption for durable medical equipment (Question 4). Approved.

Oklahoma is seeking to increase the state sales tax rate by 1%, effective July 1, 2017, in order to raise revenue for education (State Question 779). Defeated.

Washington Initiative 732 would impose the first state carbon tax in the nation and incrementally lower the state sales tax rate by 1%. Defeated.

Tobacco taxes

California is seeking to increase the cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack; other tobacco taxes would increase by a similar amount (Proposition 56). Approved.

Colorado is proposing to increase the cigarette tax by $1.75 per 20-pack (Amendment 72). Defeated (with 99% reporting).

Missouri voters will be asked to vote on two proposed tax measures; if both pass, the one with the most affirmative votes will win:

  • Constitutional Amendment 3 seeks a $0.60 increase per 20-pack plus a fee on tobacco wholesalers. Defeated.
  • Proposition A seeks a $0.23 increase per 20-pack by 2021; additional 5% tax on other tobacco products. Defeated.

In addition, Initiated Statutory Measure 4 in North Dakota seeks to allow the state to increase excise taxes on tobacco products from 28% to 56% of the wholesale purchase price. Defeated.


A number of localities are seeking to sales tax increases to raise revenue for transportation:

  • Georgia:
  • California:
  • Washington:
    • Kitsap County Proposition 1 seeks to increase sales and use tax by 0.3% to fund a passenger-only ferry. Yes vote narrowly leading.
    • Regional Measure Proposition 1 seeks a 0.5% sales and use tax to expand transportation services in King County, Pierce County and Snohomish County. Yes vote leading.

The above list is far from complete. Fairfax County, Virginia is seeking to levy a meals tax on prepared food and beverages; local sales and use tax rate changes are under consideration in numerous states, and in dozens of localities in California alone; and so on. If approved, they’ll be reported here when they take effect.

Tax automation software facilitates transaction tax compliance for businesses of all sizes in all states. Learn more.

photo credit: Prachatai Vote Ballot Box via photopin (license)

Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
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.