California residents now pay less in sales tax as of Jan. 1, as the statewide sales and use tax rate will decrease one quarter of one percent, going from a 7.50 percent rate to a 7.25 percent rate.
Proposition 30, the Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012, was approved by California voters in November 2012, temporarily increasing the sales and use tax by 0.25 percent until Dec. 31, 2016. With the proposition expiring today, the sales tax and use rate will return to its previous rate of 7.25 percent.
Though the decrease in the statewide rate is effective for all cities and counties in California, in many of the state's jurisdictions the actual sales and use tax rate is still higher than the statewide rate due to the addition of district taxes.
In Stanislaus County, the Library Transactions and Use Tax is a 0.125 percent tax renewal of the one-eighth of a penny Library Sales Tax, which was first passed in 1995, and will be on the November 2017 ballot. If approved, the tax will continue to keep the county's nine libraries operating for another 12 years.
Measure J, the city of Ceres Public Safety Transactions and Use Tax, effective in only Ceres, adds an additional 0.50 percent, while in Oakdale, the City of Oakdale Transactions and Use Tax calls for an increase of 0.50 percent until March 31, 2020.
Starting in April, a half-cent sales tax will be added in Stanislaus County as the result of passage of Measure L on Nov. 8.
A retailer who continues to charge and collect the higher statewide sales and use tax rate after Jan. 1, 2017, must either refund the excess tax collected to their customer or pay the excess tax to the Board of Equalization. If the excess tax collected has been paid to the BOE, the retailer may request a refund on behalf of their customer by completing form BOE-101, Claim for Refund or Credit.
For merchandise delivered after Jan. 1, 2017, the applicable sales and use tax rate is the rate that is in effect at the time the sale occurs. Generally, the sale occurs when the merchandise is delivered to the customer, unless the sales contract specifically states that title to the merchandise passes to the customer prior to delivery. With returned merchandise, the customer should be refunded the amount of tax at the rate that was charged and collected from the customer at the time of the original sale.
To find the correct rate in your city or county, visit the Find a Sales and Use Tax Rate webpage, https://maps.gis.ca.gov/boe/TaxRates/, and enter the address as prompted. Additionally, a listing of sales and use tax rates for each city and county is available on the California City & County Sales & Use Tax Rates webpage, http://www.boe.ca.gov/app/rates.aspx.