Does the Location of a Purchase Really Matter?

This week we decided to take a close look at sales tax and wanted to focus on Ohio. Last month we looked at the sales tax rate across the U.S. (you can see that blog posting here:, and we saw that Ohio through the years had a rate that remained below the National average. This showed Ohio as a favorable location to make purchases when compared to some of the surrounding states. However, we were curious as to how each of the state’s 88 counties could be compared to each other. The animated maps below show what we found.



The data gathered is from the Ohio Department of Taxation, where only data from 2009 to current are available. The animated maps begin with the first quarter (January through March) of 2009; we see that when compared to the most recent rates (currently we are in the third quarter of 2011) the sales tax rates have not changed very much across the state. When we look at each quarter, a few counties increased their rate only to be balanced out by counties decreasing their rate, thus not changing the average in the state.
While some counties have changed their rate, the counties of the “Three Cs” (Cleveland – Cuyahoga County, Columbus – Franklin County and Cincinnati – Hamilton County) have not changed their rates in the three years of data. In fact, Cuyahoga County has the highest sales tax in the state at 7.75% and is neighbored by two counties that have one of the lowest rates in the state.
Look at your county – how does your county compare to the rest of the state? Were you surprised as we were when we saw the cluster of these rates? If you live in the rural parts of Ohio, you’re most likely paying a relatively high sales tax. Not to mention you’re paying that rate on top of Ohio’s 5.50%. Ohio may do well when comparing the state’s sales tax rate to other states, but when you look within the state, that’s where you should be worried. Some food for thought, if Ohio has a lower state tax rate, but higher county tax rates, then how do the other states fare? With a high state sales tax rate, do their counties have a lower sales tax rate than their statewide rate? This must be how Ohio makes up for a low state tax rate.