When do LA County sales tax changes take effect?

FILE: Residents in some Los Angeles County cities will be paying higher sales taxes in the new year.
FILE: Residents in some Los Angeles County cities will be paying higher sales taxes in the new year.
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This year’s election is over, but voters now have questions about the decisions that were made.

South Pasadena resident Linda Fong put this question to us: "I was wondering if you can tell us when the tax increase will take effect due to the propositions that were recently passed. Thank you."

You’d think this would be an easy question to answer — but as I researched this for Linda, it turns out that sales taxes in Los Angeles County will soon be all over the place.

They’ll go down, then up for some, then up yet again. It all starts with a statewide sales tax that’s sunsetting at the end of the year. 

"In L.A. County, at least you’re going to have this sort of sequence of changes, quarter-cent reduction on January 1st, then some scattered increases in some cities," said Seth Kerstein, an ecoomist with the state Legislative Analyst's Office. 

In April, for example, Downey residents’ will see a sales tax increase of a half cent. If you live in Lynwood or Santa Monica, sales taxes will increase by a full penny on every dollar you spend. 

Then comes July 1  — the big one — Measure M will usher in a half cent sales tax increase for all of L.A. County to pay for $120 billion in transportation projects over 40 years. The tax increase will add an estimated $25 to $65 annually to residents’ tax bills.

"L.A. County Measure M is, I think, by far the most important because it just affects such a large number of people. L.A. County is so big," Kerstein said.

There will be other changes to sales taxes in 2017, depending on where you live. For example, Long Beach voters will see a local sales tax increase starting in January due to a measure voters approved in June, according to Kerstein. 

And more sales taxes in the new year might be in the offing: The L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved a quarter-cent tax to be put to voters on the March 7 ballot to help pay for homeless services. The tax would raise an estimated $355 million annually.

To check sales tax rates in your city when they go into effect, go to the California State Board of Equalization's website and use their lookup tool

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