Oklahoma May Vote on Higher Sales Tax

October 27, 2015

University of Oklahoma President David Boren, a former Governor and U.S. Senator, has launched a petition initiative to raise the state sales tax by one percentage point, with the estimated $615 million dedicated to education (including $120 million for higher education and enough money for a $5,000 raise for each teacher in the state).

While Oklahoma’s state sales tax of 4.5 percent is relatively low among states, there are also local sales taxes that reach as high as an additional 6.5 percent. In Fort Gibson, consumers pay 11 percent; in the largest cities of Oklahoma City and Tulsa the rates are 8.375 percent and 8.517 percent, respectively, after adding up the state, county, and local sales taxes.

Adjusted for these rates and for population, the Oklahoma combined state and average local sales tax is 8.78 percent, the sixth highest in the country, behind Tennessee (9.46 percent), Arkansas (9.27 percent), Louisiana (9.01 percent), Alabama (8.93 percent), and Washington (8.90 percent). (It’s worth noting that Tennessee and Washington have high sales taxes but have no income tax.)

If enacted, the proposed one percent sales tax increase would bring the combined rate to 9.78 percent, leapfrogging all those states. Tulsa and Oklahoma City would join the cities with the highest sales taxes in America, with Chicago (10.25 percent) and Seattle (9.5 percent).

For more on state and local sales tax rates, see our midyear update.

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