published April, 2009
As part of the Economic Hindrance Package, California has a “temporary” 1% sales tax rate increase starting April 1, 2009, set to expire July 1, 2011 (or possibly 2012 depending on pending legislation). Don’t forget to charge more, because you’re going to have to pay this extra tax.
For a list of sales tax rates sorted by city name in excel format, try http://www.boe.ca.gov/sutax/files/city_rates.xls. The city I’m currently sitting in, Alameda, has a rate of 9.750% as of today. You can also search for the city on line at http://www.boe.ca.gov/cgi-bin/rates.cgi.
Just to remind you, if you purchase things from outside the state and bring them here, generally you’re supposed to report and pay your own sales tax on your California return. They call it “Use Tax” This does not apply to things you register with the DMV – you pay the DMV directly instead of having to add it to your Form 540, line 49. Buying stuff on-line is less of a deal than it looks like it might be.
Also, if you personally hand carry an item into California from a foreign country, the first $800 of tangible personal property is exempt. Hooray. This exemption does not apply to things mailed or shipped from a foreign country. And this is every 30 days, so you can’t stand just over the edge of the territorial limit and toss stuff onto a barge.