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Database 2010-2016
CA Board of Equalization
October 1, 2017
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USgeocoder API

California Sales and Use Tax

The only online service that provides the most precise and up-to-date California sales and use tax rates with two different collection methods available!

California just might have the most complicated sales and use tax rules in the entire nation, but USgeocoder makes it easy to determine the correct tax rate applicable for each sale.

Sales and use tax rates are not the same in all California locations. While the standard statewide rate is currently 7.25 percent, the total rate is higher for sales in areas having voter approved special transaction (sales) and use taxes. Those areas can be governmental entities or special districts within cities or counties (e.g. healthcare, libraries, parks and recreation, road or public transportation, public safety, or zoos). Tax rates vary among jurisdictions/districts. The total applicable rate includes the standard statewide rate plus any applicable rate in the jurisdiction/district.

Current market technology challenges

Most off-the-shelf shopping cart and accounting services and software use either zip codes or city names to determine sales tax rates. But sometimes zip codes cross city and/or county boundaries so errors can occur.

In addition, the city name to which your product will be delivered is a postal city name which may also include large areas not within the incorporated taxing entity's jurisdiction. Neither city nor zip code systems can determine with certainty, for example, whether an address in a particular zip code is within a city or an unincorporated area.

USgeocoder solution

USgeocoder uses prioprietary method to geocode physical address and return the correct county, city, incorporated area, and special district information. It then "talks with" the most current Board of Equalization tax rate database to provide your shopping cart or accounting system with the most precise and up-to-date tax rates.

"Mandatory Collection" and "Total Collection" California Sales and Use Tax Modules

California State Board of Equalization Publication 105, entitled District Taxes and Delivered Sales, provides two options for collecting and paying sales and use taxes on sales of tangible goods: (1) Collect the taxes for the counties, city and special districts in which your business has a physical presence, or (2) collect taxes for all the counties and cities districts to which you ship goods.

The following is a quote from California BOE Publication 105:

If you are engaged in business in a special taxing jurisdiction, you must report district taxes on Schedule A of your sales and use tax return. The total tax rate in effect in a special tax district (statewide rate + district rate) generally applies to sales delivered or shipped into the district. However, if you are not engaged in business in the district, you are not required to collect the district use tax. Instead, you may calculate the tax due on your sale at the statewide rate. Generally, if you are not engaged in business in a special tax district and you ship by common carrier into the district, your customer is liable for the district use tax. As a courtesy to your customer, you may choose to collect the district use tax from them.

For more details, please read the full Board of Equalization Publication 105.

USgeocoder has developed separate modules to accommodate the two collection options.

Mandatory Collection Module

This module is designed to return the sales and use taxes that a California merchant is required to pay on all sales within California. It automatically compares your business' locations with each delivery address and produces the correct tax rate for each. If your company has no presence in the destination jurisdiction or district, USgeocoder returns only the statewide tax rate and shows "Collection not required" for each county and city in which the buyer is located. If the delivery address is within the same jurisdiction as your business, USgeocoder returns all applicable state, county and city district sales tax rates for the delivery address.

Total Collection Module

Using "Total Collection" Modue, USgeocoder determines the tax rate on each sale based solely on shipping destination, regardless of where the seller is located. If the destination is in the same jurisdiction as your company, you collect the applicable statewide, county and city district sales taxes that you are required to pay. If the destination is outside your business' jurisdiction, in addition to the statewide tax, you also collect and pay any applicable county and city district taxes payable there as a courtesy to your customer.

Here is an example of the sales and use tax rates as of January 1, 2016 returned from each module :


XYZ Auto Parts is located in the city of San Jose, Santa Clara County. It ships a part to a customer in the city of El Monte, Los Angeles County.

The "Mandatory Collection" module returns the following rate information:

State:
7.5%
Los Angeles County:
Collections not required
City of El Monte:
Collections not required
Total:
7.5%

The "Total Collection" option returns the following tax rate information:

State:
7.5%
Los Angeles County:
1.5%
City of El Monte:
0.50%
Total:
9.5%

Each module can produce tax rate information in either Detailed or Summary formats. The Detailed format itemizes and totals the rates for state, county, and city district taxes. The Summary format provides just the total applicable rate, county and city taxing jurisdiction names for the delivery address.

USgeocoder API offers XML REST based communication style, making it more compatible with and easier to integrate into most web applications. Following is the sample XML output for a California Sales and Use Tax request as of January 1, 2016:


 [totalcollection_tax_summary] => Array
(
[t_tax_summary_status] => Match Found
[t_tax_total_tax] => 8.75%
[t_tax_state_jurisction_name] => CA
[t_tax_state_tax] => 7.5%
[t_tax_county_jurisdiction_name] => Santa Cruz
[t_tax_county_tax] => 0.75%
[t_tax_city_jurisdiction_name] => Santa Cruz
[t_tax_city_tax] => 0.50%
[t_tax_incorporated_city] => Santa Cruz
)

 [totalcollection_tax_details] => Array
(
[t_tax_details_status] => Match Found
[t_tax_total_tax] => 8.75%
[t_tax_state_jurisction_name] => CA
[t_tax_state_tax] => 7.5%
[t_tax_county_jurisdiction_name] => Santa Cruz
[t_tax_county_tax] => 0.75%
[t_tax_county_district1_name] => Santa Cruz County Public Library Transactions and Use Tax
[t_tax_county_district1_abbr] => SZPL
[t_tax_county_district1_tax] => 0.25%
[t_tax_county_district2_name] => Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District
[t_tax_county_district2_abbr] => SCMT
[t_tax_county_district2_tax] => 0.50%
[t_tax_city_jurisdiction_name] => Santa Cruz
[t_tax_city_tax] => 0.50%
[t_tax_city_district1_name] => City of Santa Cruz Replacement Transactions and Use Tax
[t_tax_city_district1_abbr] => STCZ
[t_tax_city_district1_tax] => 0.50%
[t_tax_incorporated_city] => Santa Cruz
)

 [mandatorycollection_tax_summary] => Array
(
[m_tax_summary_status] => Match Found
[m_tax_business_address] => Array
(
[business_address_1] => 1591 Williamsport Dr, 95131
[business_address_2] => 1130 Normandy Dr, 95008
[business_address_3] => 10507 Valley Blvd, 91731
)
[m_tax_total_tax] => 7.5%
[m_tax_state_jurisction_name] => CA
[m_tax_state_tax] => 7.5%
[m_tax_county_jurisdiction_name] => Santa Cruz
[m_tax_county_tax] => Collections Not Required
[m_tax_city_jurisdiction_name] => Santa Cruz
[m_tax_city_tax] => Collections Not Required
[m_tax_incorporated_city] => Santa Cruz
)

 [mandatorycollection_tax_details] => Array
(
[m_tax_details_status] => Match Found
[m_tax_business_address] => Array
(
[business_address_1] => 1591 Williamsport Dr, 95131
[business_address_2] => 1130 Normandy Dr, 95008
[business_address_3] => 10507 Valley Blvd, 91731
)
[m_tax_total_tax] => 7.5%
[m_tax_state_jurisction_name] => CA
[m_tax_state_tax] => 7.5%
[m_tax_county_jurisdiction_name] => Santa Cruz
[m_tax_county_tax] => Collections Not Required
[m_tax_city_jurisdiction_name] => Santa Cruz
[m_tax_city_tax] => Collections Not Required
[m_tax_incorporated_city] => Santa Cruz
)

We understand California's complex sales and use tax system inside out. By using USgeocoder API, you are assured 100% compliance with the sales and use tax law!

You can find information about USgeocoder API in the USgeocoder API Integration Guide. To find out the California Sales and Use Tax information for a particular address, please take a test drive with our Live Demo or take a look at the sample API data output.

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