Central Valley

It’s no April Fool joke. See which Valley cities increased sales taxes on Monday

A Best Buy employee helps customers in the store’s video game area on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving 2018, at the River Park shopping center. Sales taxes went up by one percent starting Monday, April 1, in several smaller cities in the central San Joaquin Valley after voters approved measure to raise funds for police, public safety and other city services.
A Best Buy employee helps customers in the store’s video game area on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving 2018, at the River Park shopping center. Sales taxes went up by one percent starting Monday, April 1, in several smaller cities in the central San Joaquin Valley after voters approved measure to raise funds for police, public safety and other city services. ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

People buying things in several Valley cities may have noticed that it cost a little more on Monday than they expected. And it wasn’t some sort of April Fool joke.

Sales tax rates went up by a penny on Monday in the cities of Coalinga, Fowler and Kerman in Fresno County; in the Madera County city of Chowchilla; and in Porterville in Tulare County. In Merced County, sales taxes in the city of Los Banos rose by half of a percentage point. They are among 51 cities throughout California where new tax rates took effect.

California’s sales tax rate, which is tacked on to sales of taxable goods, is 7.25 percent, or 7.25 cents on every dollar. But many cities and counties have extra taxes to help pay for services in their communities, such as Fresno County’s Measure C tax to pay for transportation needs or other cities’ or counties’ taxes for public safety, parks, libraries or other services.

In Coalinga, Fowler and Kerman, tax rates rose Monday from the old rate of 7.975 percent — the same rate as most of the rest of Fresno County — to 8.975 percent. Chowchilla’s rate climbed from Madera County’s countywide tax rate of 7.75 percent to 8.75 percent. In Porterville, the rate rose from the 8.25 percent charged elsewhere in Tulare County to a new rate of 9.25 percent — the highest rate of any city or county in the central San Joaquin Valley.

The Merced County city of Los Banos saw the sales tax go up Monday from the old rate of 8.25 percent to 8.75 percent.

A sales tax increase of one percentage point, or one penny for every dollar spent, may not seem like a lot at first glance, perhaps an extra penny for a $1 fountain drink at a fast-food restaurant. But those pennies can add up on big-ticket purchases like furniture, appliances or smartphones and other electronics. For a $500 television, for example, the sales tax at a store in Coalinga, Fowler or Kerman would have been $39.88 before, but starting Monday, the tax would be $44.88.

On a $1,000 refrigerator, the extra tax hit would be $10 higher on Monday than it was on Sunday.

Grocery food products and other goods considered essential for people to live are typically exempt from sales taxes. All of the local sales tax increases that that took effect Monday in Valley cities were approved In November.

Coalinga’s Measure J, which will expire in 10 years, and Fowler’s Measure N, which has no expiration or sunset clause, were both aimed primarily at raising money for police and public safety services. Measure M in Kerman covers a wide range of city services and will endure until voters act to end it.

Chowchilla’s Measure N also is for public safety services and expires in eight years, while Porterville’s Measure I covered services ranging from police and public safety to youth services, homelessness, street repairs and others and will last until voters choose to end it.

Measure H in Los Banos covers public safety and other city services and will sunset in 15 years.

California’s highest sales tax rates, ranging from 10 percent to 10.5 percent, are all in cities in Los Angeles County. Kings County and its cities except for Corcoran are among the places in California with the lowest sales tax rates at 7.25 percent. The rate in Corcoran is 8.25 percent.

Lifelong Valley resident Tim Sheehan has worked in the Valley as a reporter and editor since 1986, and has been at The Bee since 1998. He is currently The Bee’s data reporter and covers California’s high-speed rail project and other transportation issues. He grew up in Madera, has a journalism degree from Fresno State and a master’s degree in leadership studies from Fresno Pacific University.


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