Idaho’s sales taxes rank low in national comparison

The Tax Foundation has released a new ranking of state and local sales taxes, and Idaho ranks at the lower end: 37th.

The foundation calculated Idaho’s combined state and local sales tax rates, on average, at 6.03 percent; Idaho’s 6 percent sales tax is statewide, and it has very few local sales taxes, mainly limited to small resort communities.

In comparison, the top rates were Louisiana, 9.99 percent; Tennessee, 9.45 percent; Arkansas, 9.3 percent; Alabama, 8.97 percent; and Washington, 8.92 percent – ranked fifth.

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia charge sales tax statewide; the five that don’t are Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon. However, the foundation’s survey notes that Alaska and Montana allow local sales taxes. California has the highest statewide sales tax rate at 7.5 percent, but Louisiana has the highest average local sales tax rate of 4.99 percent, which combined with its 5 percent state sales tax, boosted it to highest in the nation.

“Sales taxes are just one part of an overall tax structure and should be considered in context,” the report states. “For example, Washington state has high sales taxes but no income tax, whereas Oregon has no sales tax but high income taxes.”

The Idaho State Tax Commission tracks total tax burden in Idaho and how it, and each sector within it, compares to other states and the nation. The latest report, published in 2015 with 2013 figures, shows that Idaho’s overall tax burden per person ranks 49th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, and ranks lowest of 11 Western states. Both rankings have not changed since 2010.

To account for Idaho’s relatively low incomes, the report also tracks Idaho tax burden relative to income; by that measure, Idaho’s tax burden ranks 41st nationally, and again 11th among 11 Western states.