California State Sales Tax 2015: What You Need to Know

by Mark Faggiano

California Sales Tax

For an update to this post, check out our California State Sales Tax 2018 blog post.

Here at TaxJar we get a lot of support questions about collecting sales tax in California. This make sense when you consider that California is the nation’s most populous state, and even if our users don’t live here, many of them are FBA sellers who have to deal with California sales tax due to storing products in one of the state’s Amazon fulfillment centers.

It doesn’t help that California’s sales tax collection doesn’t fall neatly in a box. While most states are either origin-based or destination based, California is a hybrid of the two. If you’re a seller who has to deal with sales tax compliance in California, read on for what you need to know this year.

The Basics of California State Sales Tax

California sales tax rate: 6.5% (with a 1% rate in each county for a total of 7.5%. Most of the time you’ll see California’s statewide sales tax rate listed as 7.5% due to this mandatory 1% local tax.)

California local sales tax rates:  Vary by district. Find the most up-to-date California sales tax rates here

How to collect sales tax in California: California is a modified-origin state, which makes figuring out just how much you are supposed to collect in sales tax a little (okay, a lot) confusing. Long story short, California requires that you collect from sellers the California state sales tax rate of 7.5% + a district rate. How to determine that is enough to write a whole other blog post, and so we did just that. Click here for a complete guide on how to collect sales tax in California.

How to File a Sales Tax Return in California: Just as collecting sales tax in California can be tricky, so is filing. Click here for a guide on how to file a sales tax return in California (the easy way!)

Got Nexus in California?

If you have sales tax nexus in California, ensure that you are signed up to collect sales tax. Click here for how to register for a California sales tax permit.

If you sell on FBA and you’re not sure whether you have sales tax nexus in California, check out these resources:

What’s New in California Sales Tax for 2015?

Sales tax rates, rules and regulations are all subject to change. Here’s what’s new in California for 2015:

Sales Tax Rate Changes: So far no sales tax rate changes have been announced for 2015. Of course, that’s always subject to change. Follow TaxJar on Twitter for the latest sales tax news and updates.

Sales Tax Prosecutions: Some states have more money to enforce sales tax delinquents than others. California is one state that allocates lots of resources toward enforcing sales tax collection and remittance. In fact, the California Board of Equalization recently announced that car dealer Derek Fong Ngai Lai, 42, of Monterey Park, has received a sentence of 12 months in county jail due to sales tax evasion starting in 2007.

Have questions about sales tax rates or collecting sales tax in California? Start the conversation in the comments.

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  • GregC

    Do I need to pay a GA car dealer CA sales tax on a used car purchase?

    • Normally the sales tax rate charged is the rate at the point of sale. In the case of cars, it’s often charged when you go to register the vehicle. We recommend you contact your Department of Revenue if you have further questions.

  • Betsy Sutherland

    I will be selling online soon and setting up a program to calculate the sales tax. I my nexus is in California. Is it OK to charge CA State tax plus my district tax only? I know there may be additional sales tax to the district I am shipping to (CA) but do I absolutely have to figure this out every time I ship? I’m using a very slick computer program that prints out my invoices including shipping and taxes, but My eyes are glazing over thinking about having to input all of these various tax rates into the program I will be using.
    If the customer is technically liable to pay their district tax rate to the state, is there anything I need to do on my end? Thanks You and kudos for this site and thank you.

  • Thank you! Technically you are supposed to charge sales tax at the modified-origin rate for California. It is complicated! That’s why TaxJar created our SmartCalcs sales tax API to help merchants do just that. You can find out more here:

    Let me know if you have questions!

  • Karen Fiallos

    Do Photo Booth renters charge state/local tax in addition to the service payment?

  • Daniel Rocha

    We own a mobile home and have a mortgage, however pay 310.00/ monthly for lot rent which includes plowing and garbage;regular rent expenses. Can I deduct this from my CA state taxes

    • Hi Daniel,
      Sorry we can only help you with general advice about sales tax issues. I recommend contacting a CPA. Good luck!

  • Susan Mello

    Is the ability to apply the full refund on 2015 CA Form 540, line 95 to next year’s tax payments limited if the taxpayer is also reporting a CA use tax on Line 91?

  • Don Grede

    Can anyone tell me if California has a VAT tax? In Colorado I pay an annual tax on the vehicles I own (or lease). This is not based on a transaction, like a sales tax. This is based on the value of an item (a car) that I possess. Does this happen in Cali?

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