Maine Legislators Consider “LOST”

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Maine Legislators Consider Authorizing Local-Option Sales Taxes

Although most U.S. states permit their local governments to collect certain types of sales taxes (in addition to the statewide tax), about a dozen state still do not. One such state is Maine, which currently assesses a statewide sales tax of 5.5 percent only. But there is a renewed effort in the state’s legislature to authorize local-option sales taxes (LOST), which could provide an additional source of revenue for cash-strapped municipalities.

Bills Would Allow Municipalities to Target Sales Tax Increases During Tourist Season

There are several LOST bills currently pending before the Maine Legislature. One such bill, known as LD 65, would allow municipalities to impose a local sales tax after obtaining approval in a voter referendum. The referendum question would need to include not only the proposed tax rate, the “purposes for which the revenue will be used,” and any months when the LOST would not be collected.

This last item means that the municipality would not have to collect its portion of the sales tax year-round. Rather, localities could focus tax collection efforts on the summer months when Maine typically attracts a large number of tourists. According to the Portland Press Herald, roughly 36.7 million people visited Maine in 2017, spending approximately $6 billion throughout the state.

A second proposal, LD 1254, would allow for a LOST of up to 1 percent on restaurant meals and lodging. Like LD 65, LD 1254 would require a referendum and allow localities to specify the months in which the local sales tax would apply. But while LD 1254 is restricted to “prepared food or the value of rental of living quarters” to travelers, LD 65 permits collection of local sales tax on any item that is already subject to Maine’s statewide sales tax.

Conservative, Liberal Activists Challenge LOST Proposals

Not surprisingly, many conservative anti-tax groups oppose the LOST bills. Jim Fossel, a former staffer for Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, wrote in an editorial for the Press Herald that “the very concept of a local-option sales tax is fundamentally flawed.” Fossel argued it was a “competitive advantage” for Maine not to have such taxes, and that “towns and cities across Maine ought to continue doing what they can to cut costs and constrain spending.”

What’s interesting is that some liberal activists agree with Fossel–at least with respect to opposing the LOST. Sarah Austin of the Maine Center for Economic Policy, which describes itself as a “progressive voice” for “Maine working families,” wrote on the organization’s website, argued legislators should reject LD 65 and LD 1254 as it would disproportionately benefit those “communities heavily reliant on the tourism industry” while “doing little–or even nothing–for others.”

Austin noted that 10 municipalities in Maine generated 45 percent of the state’s meals and lodging revenue, yet only contained 16 percent of the state’s permanent population. And even a general LOST that was not limited to meals and lodging, such as the one proposed by LD 65, would hit poorer Maine residents the hardest. For this reason, Austin said a sales tax increase limited to meals and lodging would be preferable, but only if implemented as part of more comprehensive tax reform, including higher income tax rates for the “wealthiest and profitable corporations.”

 

 

May first

May 1st Sales Tax Rate Changes

ALABAMA

The City of Goldville in Tallapoosa county eliminated the 1% rate, so the new total rate for this location is 6.5%.  This was effective April 1st but we did not show it on our list of changes.

The county of Cullman has a new rate of 5.5 for a total sales tax rate of 9.0%.

 

LOUISIANA

The East Baton Rouge parish has been updated to reflect the new 5.5% parish rate, bringing the total rate to 9.950.

 

SOUTH CAROLINA

The following counties in South Carolina had rate changes:

  • Beaufort
  • Calhourn
  • Georgetown
  • Saluda

 

 

 

 

 

For more detailed information about each state’s sales or use tax rate, visit our Tax Rates By U.S. State page.  We also have Sales and Use Tax Rates By Canadian Province.

 

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Georgia House Goes a Step Further to Collect Sales Taxes

Georgia House to Require “Marketplace Facilitators” like Uber, Airbnb, and Ebay to Collect Sales Taxes

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2018 decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., a number of states have quickly moved to require out-of-state Internet-based sellers to collect and remit sales taxes on in-state purchases. For example, a new law took effect in Georgia on January 1, 2019, mandating retailers collect that state’s 4 percent sales tax for all online sales.

Now, Georgia legislators may go a step further and compel “marketplace facilitators” like eBay, Uber, and Airbnb to collect state sales tax on transactions completed by their users.

House Bill 276

On March 4, the Georgia House of Representatives passed House Bill 276 by a vote of 158-6. HB 276 proposes to expand the definition of what businesses qualify as “dealers” required to collect and remit sales tax. Specifically, the bill states anyone who “[a]cts as a marketplace facilitator to facilitate retail sales” in excess of $100,000 per year is now a dealer.

A “marketplace facilitator,” in turn, is any business that provides services designed to “facilitate a retail sale that is taxable” under Georgia law.

This includes but is not limited to the following:

  • providing any physical or electronic infrastructure to to bring “purchasers and marketplace sellers together”;
  • transmitting or communicating any offers (or acceptance of offers) between purchasers and sellers;
  • processing and collecting payments from purchasers on behalf of sellers;
  • taking orders or reservations on behalf of sellers; or
  • providing advertising, marketing, or other promotional services.

To put this in practical terms, HB 276 would likely apply to the following situations:

  • A resident of Macon, Georgia, purchases a computer on eBay from an out-of-state seller. HB 276 requires eBay to collect and remit the Georgia sales tax on this purchase.
  • A group of friends in downtown Atlanta arrange for a ride via the Uber app. HB 276 requires Uber to collect and remit the sales tax on this sale.
  • Out-of-state tourists arrange to stay in a private home in Augusta by making a reservation using Airbnb. Now Airbnb must then make sure to collect and remit the sales tax.

In other words, this Bill shifts the burden of dealing with sales taxes away from the individual sellers; many of whom may be too small to register with Georgia authorities; and places it on the companies that “facilitate” transactions with the purchasers.

GA Stands to Receive Millions from Online Sites

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April 01 date

April 2019 Sales & Use Tax Rate Changes

Must Be Spring Fever – Many Sales Tax Changes effective April 1st.

 

ALASKA

The State of Alaska does not levy a sales tax; however, several municipal governments do.  Here are the local changes effective April 1st.

  • Seldovia on Kenai Peninsula
  • Sitka in Sitka County
  • Dyea in Skagway Hoonah Angoon County
  • Skagway in Skagway Hoonah Angoon County
  • Whittier in Valdez Cordova

ALABAMA

  • Evergreen in Conecuh County
  • Florence in Lauderdale County

ARKANSAS

April 1st rate changes in the cities of:

  • Gentry
  • Hector
  • Redfield
  • Wabbaseka
  • Prairie Grove
  • Scranton
  • Waldenburg
  • Wilmot

April 1st rate changes in the counties of:

  • Saline County
  • Sharp County
  • Fulton County
  • Grant County

CALIFORNIA Read more

March 2019 Sales Tax Rate Changes

Just two sales tax rate changes for March 2019.

West Jefferson, Alabama Has a new local rate of 4.0% which bring the new total rate to 10.0%

Mesa, Arizona in Maricopa County has a new total rate of 8.3%.


Sales and Use Tax Rates by StateWhether you need a quick sales tax calculation with our Online Lookup (with free desktop and mobile apps), or something more extensive; we have an affordable solution for you.  See our Service Comparison Chart here.  Then give me a call, chat, or email and let me simplify your sales tax!


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