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Rhode Island Consumer Tax Laws

While states differ on tax rates, which types of taxes to enforce, certain exemptions, and other details, all must raise revenue somehow. Tax revenue is used to pay for public education, public parks, roads, courts, emergency services, and other public goods and services people rely on every day. Taxes on consumer goods are collectively referred to as consumer taxes. Extra taxes on certain items, such as tobacco and alcohol, are often meant to discourage the use of these items due a public health concern. Gasoline tax, meanwhile, helps pay for state highway maintenance.

States that levy a sales tax also collect what is known as a "use" tax on items purchased in another state for exclusive use in one's home state. For instance, if you drive to a neighboring state that has no sales tax in order to buy a car, you will be required to pay your home state's tax rate upon return.

Rhode Island Consumer Taxes at a Glance

The retail sales tax in Rhode Island is 7 percent, which is relatively standard. And while the cigarette tax is a whopping $3.50 per pack (as of March 2015), its alcohol taxes are fairly low. To learn more about consumer taxes in Rhode Island, and to get the most recent rates, see the Rhode Island Division of Taxation Web site.

The current rates for consumer taxes in Rhode Island are listed in the following table. See FindLaw's Tax Law section for more articles and resources.

Sales Tax 7% §§44-18-18, 20
Cigarette Tax $3.50 per pack of 20 cigarettes §44-20-12
Gasoline Tax per Gallon 33¢ §31-36-7
Use Tax 7% §44-18-20
Liquor Tax Made in state: Beer 11¢ per gallon; Still wine $1.40/gal. (from Rhode Island grapes 70¢ ); Sparkling wine 75¢ per gal.; Spirits $5.40/gal. variable rates for imported alcohol §3-10-1; 3-10-17
Gambling Tax 3-6% of total money wagered §§41-4-3, et seq.

Note: State laws are subject to change at any time, usually through the enactment of newly signed legislation but occassionally through higher court decisions or other means. Although we strive to ensure the accuracy of these pages, you also may want to contact a Rhode Island tax attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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