Sales and Use Taxes

Sales and Use/Excise tax rates in Wyoming

Sales and use tax rates vary from county to county across Wyoming. Sales Taxes in Wyoming are broken down below:

Tax Purpose
4% A statewide sales tax, with 69% to the state general fund and 31% to local governments
Up to 2% General Purpose*
(5th penny)
In increments of .5%. Used for general funding for county governments, can be renewed by resolution of majority of governing bodies after initially approved by voters.
Up to 2% Specific Purpose*
(6th penny)
Projects must be approved when the tax is approved, and the tax ends when the amount of money approved has been collected. Specific purposes cannot include regular county operations.
3% General Purpose for Resort Districts In increments of .5%. Creates a special district that can tax to fund specific projects. Acts like a regular specific purpose tax inside the district, and ends when approved amount is collected. Total sales tax in the district can exceed the 3% limit.
Up to 1% Economic Development In .25% increments. To provide for economic development.
4% Lodging Tax In increments of 1%. For local travel and tourism promotion.

*General Purpose and Specific Purpose taxes can not add up to more than 3% under WS 39-15-204 iv

**The state retains 1% of all collections as an administrative fee, including 1% of distributions to local governments from the statewide 4% tax

Source: Wyoming Department of Revenue; WS 39-15-204

How Much of sales tax revenue has been optional historically?

The optional 6th penny was increased to a possible 2%, but the total percentage of local 5th and 6th penny taxes could not exceed 2% in 2003. The optional general purpose tax was increased to up to 2% in 2007 with the same restriction.

The optional Resort District 1% was added in 2003. The cap on the Resort District tax was raised to 3% in 2007.

A chart of which counties used a 5th or 6th penny tax is available from the Department of Administration and Information's Economic Analysis Division. Please click here.

  • To see charts of optional sales taxes that passed or failed in the 2012 general election and the 2012 primary election visit the members only section of the website.

What as the original sales tax, how have rates increased?

The original sales tax in 1935 was called a "temporary emergency" tax and was intended to get the state through the Great Depression, which seriously hurt state revenues. The tax was chosen over an income tax and the rate was only 2% including many exemptions. It was renewed in 1937 as a permanent tax at 2%. It reached it's current level when it was raised again by 1% to 4% statewide in 1993. The 4th cent was made permanent in 2000 after being extended several times.

Originally half the tax went to local governments to help with programs for the unemployed and to improve infrastructure. The distribution has changed over time, and the 2012 distribution follows the chart below.

What were the other options?

The other options considered at the time were to levy severance taxes, an income tax, or to legalize and tax gambling or to create a state lottery. A severance tax was tried several times, but heavy lobbying from Union Pacific defeated it in 1889, and it failed again in 1924. The 1933 Wyoming legislature wanted to pass an income tax but failed because of lobbying from business interest and professionals. The legalization of gambling was vetoed by the governor after passing both Houses and the sales tax was finally passed with wide support.

How important are sales and use taxes?

The sales tax was the primary source of state funding from its creation in 1935 until severance taxes were enacted in 1969. The chart below shows sales tax collections as a percentage of total tax revenues for the state of Wyoming from fiscal years 1989 through 2011.


Source: WTA's Tax Summary

The second graph below shows the make-up of local sales tax collections, which are split between general purpose and specific purpose taxes, the 5th and 6th pennies. It shows the movement away from general purpose taxes and the trend toward specific purpose taxes.


Source: WTA's Tax Summary

The final graph shows the percentage of state revenues that can be attributed to sales and use taxes, including non-tax revenues to the state. This shows a fairly steady importance of sales and use taxes to the state of Wyoming.


Source: Legislative Services Revenue and Expenditure Information 

What is taxable now?

A general list of what is included in the sales price and is taxable is included below:

  • Any services necessary to complete a sale
  • Telecommunications nonrecurring charges and ancillary services (voicemail, conference calling, etc.)
  • Intrastate telecommunications services
  • International and interstate prepaid calling and wireless calling service
  • Installation charges
  • Clothing and accessories
  • Computers and prewritten software and most maintenance
  • Protective equipment
  • Sport and recreational equipment
  • Digital books or audio and/or visual works sold to an end user
  • Prepared food and food sold through vending machines
  • Drugs, insulin, medical oxygen, for human use without a prescription
  • All over the counter drugs for human use
  • All grooming and hygiene products
  • All drugs, insulin, medical oxygen and over the counter drugs for animals
  • All medical equipment except with prescription or repair and replacement parts
  • All prosthetics, mobility devices, corrective eyeglasses and contact lenses, hearing aids, and dental prosthesis except with a prescription

A more detailed list can be found in Wyoming's "taxability matrix," a complete list of what is taxable in Wyoming and what is included in the "sale price." It is available from the Streamlined Sales Tax Initiative's website here: http://www.streamlinedsalestax.org/uploads/downloads/State%20Compliance/Wyoming/WY%20Taxability%20
Matrix%202009.pdf

Exemptions?

There are currently 49 sales and use tax exemptions in the state of Wyoming.

As of 2006, Wyoming exempts all food for domestic home consumption from sales tax. This can be found in the Wyoming Statues 39-15-101 (a)(xli), (xlvi), 39-16-311 (a) (xviii) and (xix).

Current exemptions can be found at the Wyoming Department of Revenue's website. A link to the list is provided here:
http://revenue.state.wy.us/PortalVBVS/uploads/Excise%20exemption%20list.pdf

 

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