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Sales Taxes

Of all the taxes Americans are subjected to, sales tax is the more often than not considered the least controversial. Rarely does it inspire the debate of the income tax or property tax. Thus, a useful tax for funding everything from schools to ballparks.

The general sales tax has only been in effect since 1932, when it was imposed on the state of Mississippi and the municipalities of New York City and New Orleans. Special sales taxes, or excise taxes, have been used for much longer: the famous Boston Tea Party of 1773 was held as a protest over such a tax on tea, and the United States first imposed an excise tax on whiskey in 1790.

Within the context of tax revenues, the state sales tax is an important tax. In fact, it is currently the largest source of total state revenues in the country—45 states and the District of Columbia now impose a sales tax, and hundreds of municipalities and local government entities across the United States impose their own sales taxes. Cuts in income taxes and property taxes over the past 10 years have made states and local governments even more dependent on the sales tax.

Inside Sales Taxes