What now seems like eons ago, I read a book that began with a story about the U.S. Weather Bureau office in Caribou, Maine making their hourly weather instrument measurements on the coldest day of then recorded history for that location. Even though Caribou is not the furthest point north in Maine, it isn’t far from Saint David, which is. Maine is the furthest northeastern state in the United States, and also home to the easternmost point in the U.S., West Quoddy Head in Lubec. Maine is also the only state in the country to share its borders with only one other state which is New Hampshire. It is otherwise bordered by the Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick.
Other than by indigenous peoples, the first settlers in Maine were the French in 1604 on Saint Croix Island. The Plymouth Company established the first English settlement in 1607. Later, several additional English settlements were founded along the Atlantic coast of the state. Following the American Revolution and War of 1812,
Maine was part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts until 1820. Maine was admitted to the Union as the 23rd state on March 15, 1820. By the way, Eastport is the only U.S. City to ever be under rule by a foreign government as a result of it being held by British troops under King George from 1814 to 1818.
Today Maine is the 41st most populous state with 1.33-million residents, and the 39th largest state at 35,385 square miles. Along its 230 miles of coastline, you will find lighthouses, beaches, fishing villages and jagged rock cliffs.
Maine’s economic outputs include Maple sugar and syrup (like Vermont), apples, poultry, eggs, cattle, dairy products, potatoes and blueberries. In fact 25% of the blueberries consumed in the North America come from Maine; that makes one heck a batch of blueberry muffins (my favorite). But commercial fishing has to be the state’s mainstay when it comes to agriculture (be it aquaculture actually) and the source of the state’s most noted export - lobsters. Ninety percent of the worlds’ lobsters come from Maine’s cold coastal waters.
Today Maine's economy also relies upon substantial industrial products like paper, lumber and wood products (they produce more than 90% of the supply of toothpicks in the United States), leather, textiles and electronics.
While Brunswick Landing no longer hosts the Naval Air Station, both Bath and Kittery are home to naval shipbuilders.
The most populous municipality in Maine is the city of Portland, the largest town is Brunswick, and the smallest city is Eastport. Speaking of cities, York was the first chartered and incorporated city in America and the location of the first sawmill in the U.S.
Famous folks who called Maine home include poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, author Steven King, and former president George Bush (summer home).
Can you imagine, early prisoners in Maine complained about never having anything but boiled lobsters to eat. I can only suspect that the major source of complaint was based upon not getting melted butter and lemon to go with them.
About Sales Taxes and this series:
Thanks to Avalara, the 'tax people', this article is one in a 50 part series covering sales tax issues associated with each and every state tax jurisdiction in the United States. We’re publishing "Sales Tax Tuesday" every week through 2015.
Sales tax provides critical revenue for states. Other than property and income tax, sales tax is the largest source of tax revenue in the majority of the 46 states that collect it. From a government perspective, making sure every sales tax dollar is collected, through audits, fines, penalties rates and rules, is an exercise for income. It’s easy to be lured into a false sense of compliance when it comes to sales tax, this series is intended to insure that you are aware of the key sales tax facts for YOUR state.
Sales Tax Facts:
- Maine’s state sales tax rate is 5.5%.
- Maine imposes an 8% sale tax rate on prepared food, lodging and liquor and a 10% sales tax on short-term automobile rentals.
- Food and prescription drugs are exempt from sale tax.
- On January 1, 2016, the tax rate on lodging will increase to 9%.
- Maine is a destination sourcing state. This means that sales tax is based on the location of the buyer.
- Maine is a member of Streamlined Sales Tax (SST)
- Taxes Blue, Taxes True: Commercial sellers of blueberries must keep records of their transactions and pay the state 1.5 cents per pound ($1.50 per 100 pounds) of the fruit sold each season.
- The Tax is Out of the Bag: In April 2015, Maine jumped on the reusable bag bandwagon, following the lead of 150 other U.S. localities who are encouraging conservation, imposing a 5-cent fee on the use of disposable bags at grocery and convenience stores. When it first went into effect, the 5-cent bag fee was subject to sales tax, but a new rule in June 2015 changed that, and the fee is now exempt from sales tax.
- That Really Sticks in One’s Claw. Maine has held its annual lobster festival every year since 1947—one of the state’s largest summer events and fundraisers. But, for the past 67 years, organizers failed to collect and remit sales tax on the sales of lobster, t-shirts, and other festival goods. In Maine, sales to nonprofits are exempt from sales tax; sales by nonprofits aren’t necessarily so. Organizers came clean and paid restitution of $73,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest. The festival now taxes food sales at the 8% rate and souvenirs at the 5.5% rate.
- Whatever Floats Your Boat. Everyone knows it’s better to have friends with a boat versus owning a boat. Especially in Maine. It used to be that you could buy boats and parts tax-free if you sailed it out of the state within 30 days of purchase and moored it outside Maine. Under new law, you’ll now have to pay 40% of the sales tax on both if you bring your boat back into the state or dock it there for more than 30 days. Maine-landers, however, are still on the hook. Residents who plan to drop anchor in Maine must pay sales tax on the sticker price of the boat and repair parts.
Manual sales and use taxes are prone to error and can consumes hours of your time in collection, accounting and reporting for what is pass-through rather than revenue-generating activities. Avalara provides solutions for sales tax automation, including tax calculation, exemption certificate management, returns processing and 1099 filing and reporting. Automation via Avatax allows businesses to be fully sales tax compliant without sacrificing productivity.