D.C. Now Better than Virginia and Maryland on Sales Tax Rates

October 02, 2013

As of yesterday, beltway commuters may be might be better off doing their retail shopping in D.C. than in neighboring Virginia and Maryland. For the first time in 45 years, D.C. has the lowest general sales tax in the metro region at 5.75 percent, while both Maryland and Northern Virginia have rates of 6 percent.

Governor O’Malley (D) pushed through a plan that hiked Maryland’s sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent in 2008, and Governor McDonnell (R) pushed through a flawed transportation plan that hiked Virginia’s sales tax from 5 percent to 5.3 percent statewide and Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads’ sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent.

By our count, this has only happened at one other point in history, where for just a year in 1968, the District had a sales tax rate of 3 percent, while Virginia and Maryland had rates of 4 percent. D.C. raised its sales tax in 1969.

Of course, be aware that D.C.’s 10 percent meals tax, 18 percent parking tax, 12 percent tobacco tax, and 14.5 percent hotel tax are still in place.

Table: Sales Tax Rates in the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland, 1965-present

Year

D.C. sales tax

Virginia sales tax rate (inc. local tax in Northern Virginia)

Maryland sales tax rate

1965

3%

None

3%

1966

3%

3%

3%

1967

3%

3%

3%

1968

3%

4%

4%

1969

4%

4%

4%

1970

4%

4%

4%

1971

4%

4%

4%

1972

4%

4%

4%

1973

5%

4%

4%

1974

5%

4%

4%

1975

5%

4%

4%

1976

5%

4%

4%

1977

5%

4%

5%

1978

5%

4%

5%

1979

5%

4%

5%

1980

5%

4%

5%

1981

6%

4%

5%

1982

6%

4%

5%

1983

6%

4%

5%

1984

6%

4%

5%

1985

6%

4%

5%

1986

6%

4.5%

5%

1987

6%

4.5%

5%

1988

6%

4.5%

5%

1989

6%

4.5%

5%

1990

6%

4.5%

5%

1991

6%

4.5%

5%

1992

6%

4.5%

5%

1993

6%

4.5%

5%

1994

5.75%

4.5%

5%

1995

5.75%

4.5%

5%

1996

5.75%

4.5%

5%

1997

5.75%

4.5%

5%

1998

5.75%

4.5%

5%

1999

5.75%

4.5%

5%

2000

5.75%

4.5%

5%

2001

5.75%

4.5%

5%

2002

5.75%

4.5%

5%

2003

5.75%

4.5%

5%

2004

5.75%

5%

5%

2005

5.75%

5%

5%

2006

5.75%

5%

5%

2007

5.75%

5%

5%

2008

5.75%

5%

6%

2009

5.75%

5%

6%

2010

6%

5%

6%

2011

6%

5%

6%

2012

6%

5%

6%

2013 (as of Oct. 1)

5.75%

6%

6%

Previous coverage here.

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