Collection of a sales tax began in ancient times and was present in the Middle Ages. Its introduction into modern times began in 1918, when the German government adopted a low-rate general sales tax. The French followed suit in 1920, and within a few years, sales taxes were being collected over four continents.
In the United States, all but five states Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon impose a sales tax. In California, the tax was first imposed Aug. 1, 1933 at a rate of 2.5 percent.
California is a state that assesses a sales tax on sellers for the privilege of doing business in California. What this means for those of you who are retailers is that you're going to be required to pay sales tax on all sales you make in California. Retailers are required to pay and report sales taxes to the State Board of Equalization. They have the option of collecting sales tax reimbursement from their customers or pay it themselves. Almost all retailers utilize this first option. Whether or not a retailer collects the sales tax, the retailer is liable to transfer the tax due.
The State Board of Equalization (BOE) is a public agency charged with tax administration and fee collection in the state of California. The areas of authority of the board fall into four categories: sales and use taxes, property taxes, special taxes and acting as an appellate body for franchise and income tax appeals.
The sales tax rate in a given California location has three parts: the state tax rate, the local tax rate, and any optional tax rate that might be in effect. In addition to a statewide mandatory 7.25 percent rate, California counties are authorized to levy up to 1.5 percent in local optional sales taxes. In Contra Costa, the BOE collects and allocates the 8.25 percent that we currently pay. The breakdown is as follows: state 6 percent; county .25 percent; city 1 percent; Measure J (the county's half-cent transportation sales tax that funds various transportation improvements throughout the county) is .5 percent; the last .5 percent goes to BART.
In California, the 1 percent returned to cities is returned to the city from which it was collected. So if you purchase an item in Brentwood, the 1 percent returned to the city goes to Brentwood. It doesn't matter where the purchaser is from; only the location where the purchase takes place.
As Proposition 13 and subsequent state laws made property taxes a smaller share of local treasuries, local emphasis shifted to generating local money from sales taxes. For that reason, even though sales taxes can account for only a modest portion of total city revenues, cities regard them highly because they can represent a major share of their discretionary income. This gives cities an incentive to promote the location of retail businesses within their boundaries.
Where does Oakley stand in sales tax collection? Sales taxes account for about 9.3 percent of the revenues that make up Oakley's General Fund.
Currently more than $185 million dollars in taxable sales are leaking out of Oakley and supporting other communities. A 2006 study of sales tax per capita in East County shows Pittsburg at $120.71, Antioch at $96.13, Brentwood at $95.76 and Oakley at $37.07. Another study done in 2007 by the HdL Companies, which ranks all the agencies (cities and unincorporated county areas) in the state for sales tax collection, has Oakley ranked 459 out of 518. In Contra Costa County, the only city collecting less sales tax than Oakley is Clayton. In the current fiscal year, Brentwood has budgeted $6.5 million in sales tax dollars, Antioch's was just under $9 million and Oakley's is about $1.3 million. Think what we could do if ours increased to just $3 million!
I am aware that Oakley currently does not offer the depth of shopping experiences that many would like; however, local shopping can be a sociable event that works to sustain the community by simultaneously creating jobs, funding more city services through sales tax, investing in neighborhood improvement and promoting economic development.