Report: State's sales tax rate nation's 4th highest

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Spokane -- Using sales tax data from every ZIP code in the country, a nonpartisan think tank says Washington's overall sales tax rate is fourth-highest in the country.

That number reflects both the statewide rate of 6.5 percent and the average local rate of 2.29 percent for all counties in Washington, said Scott Drenkard, an economist with the Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C., research group that's monitored tax data since 1937.

Idaho, which unlike Washington has an individual income tax, ranked 36th for overall sales tax rates, according to the foundation.

The study, published Tuesday, noted that city, county and municipal sales tax rates vary widely, reflecting different local tax policies.

To obtain useful local numbers, Drenkard used ZIP codes along with 2010 census numbers to produce tax rate averages weighted by population.

Thirty-four states, including Washington and Idaho, have local sales tax rates. The study shows that Washington's local rates are 11th-highest in the nation.

Idaho's average local rate of .02 percent is the second-lowest among states that have local rates.