In 1878, one of the most noted feuds of the ‘old west’ took place in Lincoln County of the New Mexico Territory. Famous names that arose from that feud crowd our perceptions of gun slingers and bandits including the likes of Henry McCarty, better known by his pseudonyms of William H. Bonney, or Billy the Kid. Other participants included John Chisum, John Tunstall, Lawrence Murphy, Alexander McSween, James Dolan, William Brady, Pat Garrett, Jesse Evans, Richard Brewer and Robert Wildenmann. Over a period of several months a number of gun battles, murders, shoot-outs (all in an attempt to control land, water rights, cattle and township properties by the various fashions) erupted. The lore of these legends has given rise to more books, dime novels and movie scripts than almost any other single event in the history of the western United States.
There is a joke that goes around about New Mexico that goes something like this: “When is the weather not perfect in New Mexico? When it is better than that!”. New Mexico is mostly desert, high plains and mountains, with a climate as diverse as the landscape. It’s true that parts of New Mexico are routinely in excess of 100-degrees (but then again, like Arizona, it’s a dry heat) during the summer, the mountains in the northern part of the state have snow caps much of the year. In many ways New Mexico is the state that blends together the landscape and climates of Arizona and Colorado. By the way, New Mexico has the lowest water-to-land ratio of all 50 states. Only 0.001% of the state is lakes and rivers; however, 25% of the state is forested.
Until 1863, when the modern-day boundaries were drawn, “Spanish New Mexico” included all of present day New Mexico, most of Colorado and Arizona, and parts of Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Wyoming. New Mexico became the 47th state in 1912, and is not named for its southern border nation of Mexico but rather the Mexica (Aztec) peoples that were the first indigenous peoples of the Americas. Later the Navajo, Apache and Puebloan became native as a result of both natural and forced relocation. Today more than half of New Mexicans claim Hispanic origins and so it is officially a bi-lingual state (as noted in its constitution) with 1 in 3 families speaking Spanish in their homes.
New Mexico is 121,589 square miles, which ranks 5th in the United States. Despite the land area, there are only about 2.1-million residents, or 1 in every 17.2 square miles, so New Mexico is ranked 45th in terms of population to land density. There are more sheep and cattle than people in New Mexico.
Literally millions of acres of New Mexico are under governmental protection as national parks, national forests, national monuments and other preserves. In addition to the preserves thousands of acres surround governmental research areas, like the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Trinity site (where the first atomic bomb was tested in 1945), and the White Sands Missile Range Proving Grounds between Socorro and Alamogordo. By the way, the White Sands area isn’t sand at all, it is white gypsum crystals.
Among some of the more scenic sitesyou will find the Santa Fe National Forest, the Gila Wilderness, the Lincoln National Forest, the Aztec Ruins National Monument, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, the Santa Fe National Historic Trail, the Old Spanish National Historic Trail, the Pecos National Historical Park, Fort Union National Monument, El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Trail and the Capulin Volcano National Monument. While there are plenty of sights to see in New Mexico, the problem is that the roadways to get there are somewhat limited, in fact 75% of all the roads within the state are not paved. (You better have a good 4-wheel drive vehicle if you are going to trek out into uncharted territories of sand, mountain or timber.)
Santa Fe, the state’s 4th largest city, is not only the capital of New Mexico, but actually the highest elevation capital city in the United States, situated at 7,000+ feet above sea level. Albuquerque, the largest city in New Mexico hosts the world’s largest hot air balloon festival each year. Las Cruces and Rio Rancho round out the top 4 cities by population. But the 5th largest, despite being barely 60% the size of the 4th, is know by perhaps the most noted name in all of New Mexico, “Roswell”.
Roswell is of course most popularly known for what is called the 1947 Roswell UFO incident, even though the alien crash site is actually more than 75 miles from town. The association primarily comes from the fact that the investigation of the incident and the debris recover was under the command of the Roswell Army Air Field. I will let you decide if you believe a flying saucer crashed or not, even though my little alien buddy, NaNu swears it was his 3rd uncle on his mother’s side (or is it his 3rd mother on his uncle’s side, I forget). Literally thousands of amateur UFOers and sight-seers visit the Roswell/Corona area each year.
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.
Yes, it is true, New Mexico is one of the few U.S. States without a sales tax, but we are still covering important aspects of the state's taxation methodology.
New Mexico Tax Facts:
- New Mexico doesn’t have a state sales tax, but rather imposes a gross receipts tax on businesses. This tax is passed onto the consumer so that it resembles a sales tax. The gross receipts tax rate is currently 5.125%, but depending on local municipalities, the total tax rate can be as high as 8.625%.
- New Mexico is one of only 11 origin sourcing states. This means that sales tax is based on the location of the seller, not the buyer. New Mexico is not a member of Streamlined Sales Tax (SST)
- Inside Job: New Mexico’s definition of nexus may be alien to some folks. State lawmakers ruled that New Mexico companies that hire independent contractors have to pay gross receipts tax on any sales related to those services. But if the company’s employees perform services in the state for a customer, and that work is under a certain threshold of total working hours, those services are exempt. Simply put: When employees don’t work in New Mexico, the business has a physical presence (aka nexus). But when employees do work in New Mexico, they don’t have enough of a physical presence to warrant nexus.
- Here’s a tip for you. Don’t bundle your gross receipts with your gratuities or you could end up trimming your profits. A New Mexico salon owner found out the hard way when a bookkeeper rolled her tips with her total gross receipts which meant she paid tax on them. When she tried to get a refund, the state balked. But the salon owner refused to cut her losses, citing a New Mexico tax law which exempts gratuities from gross receipts tax. The state concurred.
- The Golden Years. Who says it doesn’t pay to grow old. The reward for turning 100 in New Mexico? You no longer have to pay income tax. No wonder they call it the Land of Enchantment!
Did You Know (Added by the Editor)
Sometimes I just 'forget' to include something in an article I had intended all along, it just slips my mind. I woke up at 3am this morning going, "what about Hatch!" I forgot to mention that New Mexico is home to a little town called Hatch, better known for it's wide variety of New Mexico 'chili peppers' but most prominently, their special variety 'the Hatch Chili'. I really can't believe I forgot to add this, I had just been to my local grocery store over this past weekend, and people from "Hatch Chili Peppers" were there, roasting their peppers in the parking lot in special roasting machines. The peppers turn black on the outside, but what goodness is left under the char when it is scraped away, I had a 'hot' pepper rolled up in a flour tortilla with some 'Hatch' Chili Cheese and a dab of 'crema', what a delight. Of course New Mexico is famous for turning these chili peppers into a variety of 'chili' when they combine them with pork, and corn, and a variety of other components and let them stew for hours into a green chili that is oh so yummy. All across the state you will find local variations of New Mexico 'green chili' but it all stems from the home of the Chili festival, "Hatch, NM".
By the way, the annual festival is September 4 and 5 this year, hope to see you there.
Thanks to our friends at Avalara for providing information on New Mexico even though it isn't a 'sales tax' state.