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Sales Tax Deduction Calculator - Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Sales Tax Deduction Calculator use a methodology that differs from the worksheet in the Schedule A instructions?

No. However, it has built into it information on local sales tax rates, which are not contained in the paper instructions. It also does the math for you.

Why is this methodology called “optional”?

Because this is in lieu of your having to add up all of your general sales tax payments from your receipts, which you are always entitled to do.

Will the IRS retain any information about me when I use the calculator?

No. Although we do not use or retain any personal information about users of our web site, we do compile general usage statistics, such as the number of visits, the number of page views, etc.

Why aren’t the “specified items” already accounted for in the tables, etc.?

These “big ticket” items are generally not purchased every year. If an average annual amount were included in the tables for these purchases, then taxpayers would be able to get double benefit for them: using their actual receipts in years when they purchased such items, but using the tables in all other years. As a result, the law provides for such items to be accounted for outside of the tables entirely.

Why are there different methodologies for determining one’s local optional sales tax deduction, depending on one’s state or locality?

There are two key features of a general sales tax: what is taxed (the tax base), and how much it is taxed (the tax rate). Among the states that have local sales taxes, these two features create three basic categories:

  1. Those in which the local tax base is the same as the state tax base and there is just one local sales tax rate throughout the state—in this case (e.g., Virginia), the local sales tax amount can be included with the state table using a combined rate on the same items.
  2. Those in which the local tax base is the same as the state tax base, but the local sales tax rates vary throughout the state—in this case the local sales tax amount can be derived from the state amount using the ratio of the local rate to the state rate.
  3.  Those in which both the local tax bases and the local sales tax rates vary throughout the state—in this case the local sales tax amount must be derived independently from the state amount. 

Is it necessary to tell the Sales Tax Deduction Calculator that I made a local move (within the same state and ZIP Code)?

Not if you’re sure that you stayed within the same local taxing jurisdiction. Many ZIP Codes contain more than one local taxing jurisdiction, however. If you changed your City or County of residence (even within the same ZIP Code), then you should enter your new residence separately in the Calculator. In any case, it’s always a good idea to enter both locations if you’re not sure; the Calculator will give the correct answer whether or not the two locations have different sales tax rates.

Why are the residents of Salem County, New Jersey entitled to deduct only half of that state’s table amount?

By virtue of New Jersey law, the state sales tax rate in Salem County is half of the statewide rate.

I am a Member of U.S. Military deployed in an overseas Military Zone. Can I use the Sales Tax Deduction Calculator?

Yes. Sales Tax Deduction Calculator has been updated with overseas U.S. Military Zone and Districts where members of U.S. Military pay no sales tax. U.S. Military Personnel who are deployed overseas can use the calculator to determine the sales tax they paid while they were within the United States. When using the calculator, please choose from one of the following Military Zone abbreviations:

AA - Military Personnel in the Americas, excluding Canada

APO - Military Post Office for U.S. Army & Air Force Personnel

AE - Military Personnel in Europe, Middle East, Africa and

FPO - Military Post Office for U.S. Navy Personnel
AP - Military Personnel in Asia Pacific DPO -Post Office for U.S. Embassy, State Department and
          other Diplomatic Personnel 
Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 31-Dec-2014