When Connecticut’s sales tax inched upwards from 6 percent to 6.35 percent in 2011, the state made its way into the top ten sales tax states, leaving behind a gaggle of 16 states perched at 6 percent or slightly higher, but below the new Nutmeg rate of 6.35 percent.
Today, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators, Connecticut sits at number ten in the nation for its sales tax rate. Close on our heels are Massachusetts, Texas and Illinois at 6.25 percent, and Kansas at 6.3 percent. Leading the pack is California at 7.5 percent, with five states - Indiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Tennessee - at 7.0 percent.
Five states - Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon - have no sales tax. However, Alaska and Montana permit local sales taxes and Delaware imposes a rental and service tax. The five states with the highest average combined rates of state and local taxes are Tennessee (9.44 percent), Arizona (9.16 percent), Louisiana (8.87 percent), Washington (8.86 percent), and Oklahoma (8.67 percent), according to the Tax Foundation.
Many states have sales tax holidays on select products for specific time periods during the year, with the majority focusing on back-to-school items or energy saving products. Alabama, Louisiana and Virginia offer two or three tax-free days for the purchase of hurricane preparedness related equipment. In Connecticut, clothing and footwear are exempt for a week in late August, just as families are doing their last-minute shopping for the start of the school year.
In Louisiana, firearms including shotguns, rifles, pistols, and revolvers, ammunition and hunting supplies are tax-free for three days in September. In 2012, the days were promoted on the state’s website with a promotional video announcing the “Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday.” Among the additional items that can be sold tax-free are knives, bows & arrows, off-road vehicles and safety gear. The annual three-day tax holiday was approved by the Louisiana legislature in 2009.
The previous year, South Carolina waived the state’s sales and use tax on purchases of handguns, rifles and shotguns during a Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday, held just after Thanksgiving on Nov. 28 – 29, 2008. The bill become law after the veto by then-Governor Mark Sanford was overridden in the legislature. The 48-hour tax break on firearm purchases also applied to any local sales and use tax. The tax break did not apply to accessories such as ammunition, black powder, holsters, archery supplies and similar items. The tax holiday, which must be approved annually by the legislature, has not been held the past two years, as the state’s fiscal situation tightened.
A similar proposal in West Virginia was vetoed by then-Governor Joe Manchin (D) in April 2010. Manchin was elected to the U.S. Senate later that year.
Earlier this year, a Texas lawmaker proposed that the Lone Star state's independence be celebrated by making Texas Independence Day, March 2nd, a tax-free holiday for gun purchases in that state. The proposal would include no sales tax on shotguns, rifles, pistols, revolvers and other handguns, gun safes, gun cases, cleaning supplies and optics, ammunition, archery equipment, hunting stands, blinds, and decoys, the NBC affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth has reported.
Top ten sales tax rates (percentage):
- California 7.5
- Indiana 7.0
- Mississippi 7.0
- New Jersey 7.0
- Rhode Island 7.0
- Tennessee 7.0
- Minnesota 6.875
- Arizona 6.6
- Washington 6.5
- Connecticut 6.35
The Sales Tax Institute notes that many states allow non-standard rates on many items including meals, lodging, telecommunications and specific items and services. State laws regarding county or local taxes, in addition to the state sales tax, also vary.