The total Orange County sales tax for most OC cities is 7.75%. However, nine cities in Orange County have a higher sales tax than 7.75% due to additional taxes levied by the respective cities. Santa Ana has the highest tax rate in Orange County at 9.25% with Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Placentia, Seal Beach, Stanton and Westminster .5% behind at 8.75%. La Habra and La Palma also have higher tax rates at 8.25%.
Orange County Sales Tax by City
|City||Total Sales Tax||State Tax||Local Tax||County Tax||City Tax|
|Santa Ana *||9.25%||6.00%||1.25%||0.50%||1.50%|
|All other OC cities||7.75%||6.00%||1.25%||0.50%||0.00%|
* Santa Ana’s sales tax increase will drop by .5% in 10 years and will sunset 10 years after that.
Where California Sales Tax Money Goes
The state of California keeps 6.00% of the sales tax collected and the additional 1.25% goes to the county (1%) and city (.25%) funds. Orange County collects an additional 0.50% which brings the Orange County sales tax .50% higher than the state minimum sales tax of 7.25%.
Here is the breakdown of the of 7.25% minimum CA sales tax:
California Sales & Use Tax Rates
|3.69%||State||Goes to State's General Fund||Revenue and Taxation Code Sections 6051, 6201|
|0.25%||State||Goes to State's General Fund||Revenue and Taxation Code Sections 6051.3, 6201.3 (Inoperative 1/1/01 12/31/01)|
|0.50%||State||Goes to Local Public Safety Fund to support local criminal justice activities (1993)||Section 35, Article XIII, State Constitution|
|0.50%||State||Goes to Local Revenue Fund to support local health and social services programs (1991 Realignment)||Revenue and Taxation Code Sections 6051.2, 6201.2|
|1.06%||State||Goes to Local Revenue Fund 2011||Revenue and Taxation Code Sections 6051.15 and 6201.15|
|1.25%||Local||0.25% Goes to county transportation funds / 1.00% Goes to city or county operations||Revenue and Taxation Code Sections 7202 and 7203|
|7.25%||State/Local||Total Statewide Base Sales and Use Tax Rate|
What’s Taxed and What Isn’t?
Sales tax applies to most goods and services that you purchase. This includes everything from clothing to restaurant meals. Over 30 items such as alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis, tires, gas and batteries incur additional taxes and fees.
Example of Items Exempt from Sales Tax
- Groceries or unprepared foods
- Plants or seeds used for food
- Prescription drugs
- Services are not subject to sales tax (but may be subject to other taxes)
- Energy utilities
CA Sales Tax Quirks
- If you buy a car in California, your sales tax is based on where you register the car and not where you buy it.
- Candy is considered a grocery (not taxed) but a soda is not.
- Ready-to-eat hot foods, whether sold by supermarkets or other vendors, are taxed.
- The CA excise tax on gas is 46.7 cents per gallon.
- The CA excise tax on cigarettes is $2 per pack.
- The CA excise tax on cannabis is 60%.
If you are unsure whether or not you have to pay sales tax on a specific item or good, you should check federal, state and local laws.
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