Whether you are just visiting or a new resident of Virginia, you may find yourself wondering, "What's the sales tax in Virginia?" While some states do not have a sales tax and others vary tax amounts based on the type of purchase, knowing how to calculate sales tax ahead of time will save you a surprise when reviewing your receipts.
What Is Sales Tax?
Sales tax is a special tax tacked onto retail sales of goods and services, the Tax Foundation writes. It makes up a significant portion of state and local revenue, with each state establishing its tax rate, exceptions and variances.
Sales tax can have a significant impact on buying and business habits. According to the Tax Foundation, research has shown that many consumers who live in high sales tax areas may make large purchases in low-tax areas. If nearby, they may even go to New Hampshire, Delaware, Montana or Oregon, where there is no sales tax.
Tax bases vary state by state, meaning there is no consistency in what is and is not taxable across the country.
What’s the Sales Tax in Virginia?
According to Virginia Tax, all general sales, leases and rentals of tangible personal property in Virginia are eligible for sales tax, including accommodations and taxable services, as long as there is not an established exemption or exception.
Sales tax varies by city or county in Virginia; however, the average sales tax in most cities in Virginia is 5.3 percent, while food and personal hygiene items are taxed at 2.5 percent statewide, according to Virginia Tax. Sales tax rates are higher at 6 percent in Central Virginia, Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia. Halifax County and Henry County have an even higher tax rate of 6.3 percent, and James City County, Williamsburg and York County top the charts with a general sales tax rate of 7 percent.
As of July 1, 2021, according to Virginia Tax, Charlotte County, Gloucester County, Northampton County and Patrick County have been added to the 6.3 percent bracket.
Aircraft, Watercraft and Motor Vehicle Sales Tax in Virginia
Sales tax varies for aircraft, watercraft and motor vehicles in Virginia, as well. According to Virginia Tax, all aircraft purchased in Virginia are taxed 2 percent of the purchase price, while aircraft purchased elsewhere but licensed in Virginia are taxed 2 percent of the purchase price or current market value, whichever is lower.
Aircraft that are leased or chartered are taxed 2 percent of the gross receipts. Similar rules apply to watercraft. All watercraft purchased in Virginia are taxed 2 percent of the purchase price, while any watercraft purchased elsewhere but titled in Virginia is taxed 2 percent of the current market value.
Additionally, any motor purchased separately to power the watercraft and any watercraft leased or chartered in Virginia is taxed 2 percent of the gross receipts. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, all motor vehicles are taxed 4.15 percent of the vehicle's gross sales price or $75, whichever is greater.
Sales Tax Calculator Virginia
To calculate the sales tax in Virginia, you can use a sales tax calculator for Virginia or calculate manually. To calculate manually, convert the percentage to a decimal. For example, 5.3 percent becomes 0.053.
Multiply the decimal form by the total purchase as follows: $30 x 0.053 = 1.59
Then add that amount to the purchase amount to find your total: $30 + 1.59 = $31.59