TurboTax / Tax Calculators & Tips / All Tax Guides / Tax Deductions and Credits / Deductions for Sales Tax

Deductions for Sales Tax

Updated for Tax Year 2015


OVERVIEW

Most states charge a sales tax on the purchase of goods sold within their jurisdictions. However, there are several tax-free states in which you can shop that do not impose a sales tax on retail purchases. But, regardless of whether you shop in a tax-free state or not, sales taxes can impact your federal tax return.


Tax-free states

As of this writing, Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon are the only five states that do not impose a sales tax. It isn’t necessary for you to be a resident of one of these states to shop there. In fact, doing some tax-free shopping in one of these states can save you money on your tax return if you itemize your deductions and take the state sales tax deduction. If you do this, you can’t deduct your state income tax payments too – you have to choose one or the other. The best part is that you can use the Internal Revenue Service optional sales tax tables to figure out how much your deduction will be.

Itemizing sales tax

The IRS always gives you a choice between claiming the standard deduction and itemizing on Schedule A. Since you can take the larger of the two deductions, it’s important to compute the total of all expenses you incur that can be itemized and compare it to the standard deduction. TurboTax will calculate this for you and recommend the best choice.

The decision to itemize often includes considering the amount of sales tax you can deduct, even if you make all of your purchases in tax-free states and never even pay any sales tax during the year. You should also consider the actual sales tax payments you make on big ticket items, such as new cars or boats. This is because the IRS allows you to add these tax payments to the amount of sales tax you’re eligible to deduct when using the optional sales tax tables, which gives you an even bigger deduction.

Optional sales tax tables

Unless you do all of your shopping in tax-free states, keeping track of the sales tax you pay on every purchase can be an incredibly daunting task, which is why the IRS allows you to estimate your sales tax deduction using the optional sales tax tables.

The nice thing about using the tables is that you qualify for the amount that corresponds to the state where you live, the range of income that includes the amount of your adjusted gross income (increased by certain types of tax-exempt income) and the total number of personal and dependent exemptions you take even if you don't pay a single dollar in sales tax. Additionally, if you live in a county or municipality that charges an additional rate of tax, such as New York City, you can increase your sales tax deduction even more. TurboTax will take care of these calculations to ensure that you get the best deductions for your specific situation.

Sales use tax considerations

States that impose sales taxes generally impose an equivalent amount of use tax for out-of-state purchases on which no sales tax has been collected. Accordingly, purchasing goods from a neighboring state or on-line where no sales tax has been collected subjects you to use tax in your state of residence. Most states require you to self-report your out-of-state purchases and remit the calculated amount of use tax, and many states are getting extremely aggressive in pursuing this source of revenue.

Get every deduction you deserve

TurboTax Deluxe searches more than 350 tax deductions and credits so you get your maximum refund, guaranteed.

For only $54.99*
Start for Free

The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.


Security is built into everything we do
Here's how
* Important Offer Details and Disclosures
  • Filing Deadline: IRS filing deadline for tax year 2015 is April 18, 2016 (except for residents of Massachusetts or Maine, where the IRS filing deadline for tax year 2015 is April 19, 2016).
  • Try for Free/Pay When You File: TurboTax online and mobile pricing is based on your tax situation and varies by product. Free 1040EZ/A + Free State offer only available with TurboTax Federal Free Edition; Offer may change or end at any time without notice. Actual prices are determined at the time of print or e-file and are subject to change without notice. Savings and price comparisons based on anticipated price increase expected 3/18/16. Special discount offers may not be valid for mobile in-app purchases.
  • TurboTax CD/Download products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal e-file of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees apply for efiling state returns. E-file fees do not apply to New York state returns. Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase expected 3/18/16. Prices subject to change without notice.
  • Anytime, anywhere: Internet access required; standard message and data rates apply to download and use mobile app.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with efile and direct deposit; tax refund timeframes will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: A $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice. This benefit is available with TurboTax Federal products except the TurboTax Home & Business/QuickBooks Self-Employed bundle offers.
  • About our TurboTax Product Experts: Customer service and product support vary by time of year.
  • About our credentialed tax experts: Live tax advice service is available via phone for your toughest tax questions; fees may apply. Service, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice. Not available for TurboTax Business customers.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2014 TurboTax products.
  • Most Popular: TurboTax Deluxe is our most popular product among TurboTax Online users with more complex tax situations.