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Pennsylvania Consumer Tax Laws

Consumer taxes are typically higher for consumer goods or services that are either unhealthy or not considered essential, such as cigarettes and liquor. Gasoline taxes generally fund highway construction and maintenance, while sales tax revenue usually goes into the state's general fund. Each state has their own consumer tax laws that apply to the usual vices like alcohol and cigarettes.

Consumer Tax Statutes in Pennsylvania

The basic provisions of Pennsylvania consumer tax laws are listed in the following table.

Sales Tax

6% Tit. 72 §§7202

Cigarette Tax

5¢/cigarette Tit. 72 §8206

Gasoline Tax per Gallon

12¢ 75 §9004

Use Tax

6% Tit. 72 §§7202

Liquor Tax

Beer $.08 per gallon; Spirits $7.21/gal. 72 §9003; 47 §795

Gambling Tax

"Tavern Gaming Law" legalized certain tavern gaming; Horse racing: admission tax 15% admission price; 1.5% wagers retained §§4-325.222, 325.208

If you live in Pennsylvania and you’re shopping online or in another state, you may think you’re getting items “tax free”. However, Pennsylvania law requires you to pay a “use tax” if you purchase taxable goods or services delivered into or used in Pennsylvania if the vendor does not collect a sales tax. As noted above, the use tax rate is 6 percent, the same as the sales tax rate. Some purchasers must add an additional 2 percent local tax for Philadelphia and 1 percent local tax for items purchased in delivered to or used in Allegheny County. Some common scenarios where Pennsylvania’s use tax would apply are:

  • When you purchase taxable property or services on the Internet, by phone, or from catalogs without paying Pennsylvania sales tax, and when the property or services are delivered into Pennsylvania;
  • When you purchase taxable property from a seller who is located outside of Pennsylvania and the property is delivered into or used in Pennsylvania; and
  • When you send or take property out of Pennsylvania, have a taxable service performed on that property, and then have the property shipped or bring it back into Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Consumer Tax Laws: Related Resources

Tax laws can be some of the most confusing for the ordinary citizen to understand. If you’d like to read more general tax information, you can visit FindLaw’s sections on Pennsylvania Tax Laws and Tax Laws and Forms. If you would like legal assistance with a tax matter, you can contact a Pennsylvania tax attorney in your area and schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

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