- Associated Press - Monday, July 13, 2015

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - A report shows that Oklahoma residents continue to pay some of the highest combined state and local sales taxes in the nation.

The Tax Foundation’s annual report shows that Oklahoma’s average combined sales-tax rate at 8.78 percent is slightly higher than last year’s 8.72 percent.

The state has dropped from fifth to sixth in rankings, after Alabama moved up to fourth. The rankings are calculated by adding state sales taxes to an average of all local sales taxes, the Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/1HYTmAZ ) reported.

But when it comes to other taxes at the state and local level, the Tax Foundation’s previous assessments shows that Oklahoma ranks fairly low. The organization ranked Oklahoma 38th in total per capita state and local tax collections for 2012, the last year for which data was available.

Oklahoma has since cut its top income tax rate, but experts say reducing the state’s sales tax doesn’t appear to be on lawmaker’s agenda.

“For politicians, a sales tax is lots of times the only one they’ll consider raising,” said David Blatt of the Oklahoma Policy Institute.

Oklahoma is unusually dependent on sales taxes because of moderate-to-low income and excise taxes and because it has some of the lowest property taxes in the United States.

Oklahoma is the only state in which municipal governments, excluding some creative accounting, can’t use property-tax revenues for general operation, making municipalities almost completely dependent on sales taxes.

Another factor is that some policy makers believe that reducing or eliminating the income tax all together would spur economic growth and that sales taxes are fairer and easier to administer.

Jonathan Small of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs said that “any tax is a burden, but our state income tax continues to prohibit economic growth for Oklahomans.”

Others like Blatt contend that the sales tax is regressive, meaning that it hits low-income households harder.

“It’s a little disingenuous to say sales taxes affect everyone equally,” Blatt said.


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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