by Julie Tisdale
City & County Policy Analyst
The Tax Foundation published an interesting ranking of sales tax rates in major US cities today. The whole piece is worth reading, but just a couple quick comments from a North Carolina local government angle.
First, two points of clarification. By “major,” they mean cities with populations of at least 200,000. Six North Carolina cities were included in their analysis. They looked at 116 cities overall.
Also, they looked at combined sales tax rates, so the sales taxes imposed by states, cities, counties, and special districts, all of which are added on top of each other. North Carolina has a state sales tax of 4.75%, but cities and counties charge their own sales taxes, so the actual rates paid in particular locations are often significantly higher.
So how did North Carolina cities fare?
We weren’t great, and we also weren’t terrible. North Carolina cities fell somewhere in the middle.
The highest rates were in Long Beach, California and Chicago, which both have combined rates of 10.25%, while the lowest are Anchorage, Alaska, and Portland, Oregon, which don’t have any sales tax at all. North Carolina cities ranged from 6.75%, which ranked 20th, to 7.5%, which ranked 42nd.
Obviously, sales tax is just one of many taxes that affect the overall tax climate, but they are one over which local governments have some direct control, so they are rightly a focus for city and county officials.