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West Virginia Consumer Tax Laws

Consumer taxes are generally intended to raise revenue for the state, to discourage certain habits, or sometimes both. Cigarette, gas, and gambling taxes both raise money for the government and try to limit the consumption of these items or the activity. However, only purchases of those products pay that tax. In comparison, West Virginia has a sales tax that everyone pays, whether they’re a long-time state resident, a tourist, a citizen, or an undocumented immigrant.

Taxes on Goods Purchased Out-of-State or Online

According to the U.S. Constitution, only the federal government has the power to regulate trade between two states. Therefore, states generally can’t tax goods purchased in or imported from another state. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you can always avoid paying sales taxes by purchasing expensive items in states without sales tax, like Delaware or New Hampshire. For example, whether you purchase a car in-state or out-of-state, you have to pay the 5% motor vehicle sales tax on a car titled in West Virginia. This discourages individuals from buying a car outside West Virginia just to save on taxes.

You can’t necessarily avoid taxes just by purchasing items online either. Generally, if a company has a physical presence in the state where an item is bought (e.g. Kohl’s, Sears, JC Penney, etc.), then the seller must collect sales tax from the buyer. If not, the seller doesn’t have to collect sales tax. Note that the rules for international internet purchases differ greatly.

The following chart lists the primary consumer tax laws and tax rates in West Virginia.

Sales Tax Sales tax in West Virginia is 6%. However, some cities have an additional municipal rate, from .5 to 1% making the total sales tax in those cities be 6.5% to 7%. Those cities include Charleston, Huntington, Wheeling, and more.
Use tax The West Virginia sales and use tax are the same at 6%. This makes sense because the use tax is what you pay for items bought elsewhere, but used in West Virginia.
Gasoline Tax The gas tax was decreased from 20.5 cents per gallon to 15.5 cents per gallon on August 1, 2007. There’s also an 11.7 cents per gallon sales tax on gasoline and other similar fuels.
Cigarette Tax West Virginia charges a tax of 55 cents per 20 cigarettes. Some activists are pushing for an increased tobacco excise tax because WV has one of the highest tobacco use rates in the country.
Liquor Tax The oddly named “nonintoxicating beer” or .5% to 12% alcohol by volume is taxed at a rate of $5.50 per barrel. Any intoxicating liquor is taxed at 5% of the purchase price.
Gambling Tax Horse and dog racing tracks pay a daily license tax of $150 to $250 and the local cities may also levy tax. In addition, there’s a tax that varies on the pari-mutuel pool. The tax rate on casinos or “racino” (racetrack casinos) is 35 to 49% of adjusted gross gaming revenue.

Getting Help with Taxes

Tax laws can be confusing. If you’ve got questions about taxes, consider talking with an experienced West Virginia tax lawyer, especially if you’re accused of tax evasion or tax fraud.

Note: State laws are revised frequently. Please consult with a knowledgeable attorney or conduct your own legal research to confirm these state tax laws.

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