Oklahoma’s thirty-nine federally recognized tribes represent about eight percent of the state population, which makes Oklahoma home to the the largest Native American population in the United States.
Most of these tribes came from places across our country, but were removed from their homelands and relocated to Oklahoma during the nineteenth century. Their diverse cultures and rich heritage make Oklahoma (which literally means “land of the red people” in Choctaw) a very special state. American Indians have impacted Oklahoma’s growth from territory to statehood and have made it into the great state it is today, as proudly depicted atop our Capital’s dome. (at right). Much of the state’s Indian and pioneering spirit is depicted in a number of large statues and sculptures including “Hopes and Dreams” in Perry, “On the Chisholm Road” in Duncan, and a life-size statue of astronaut Thomas Stafford in Weatherford. It also lays claim to Vinnie Ream, the sculptress who created the life-size status of Abraham Lincoln at the U.S. Capitol, and even named a town after her (Vinita).
Oklahoma is the 20th most extensive at nearly 70,000 square miles, and the 28th most populous, with more than 3.9-million residents, of the 50 United States.
While most people think of Oklahoma as ‘flat land’ it generally is a continual slope from northwest to southeast, with the highest point ‘Black Mesa’ topping out at 4973 feet (above sea level) in the Oklahoma Panhandle, and its lowest point near the town of Idabel at an elevation of 289 feet (above sea level). Who would have thunk that all this land that seems so flat actually slopes nearly a mile high. (I can talk that way, cause I am an ‘Okie’.) But did you know that Oklahoma has more man-made lakes than any other state, with over 1 million surface acres of water.
The state’s nickname, The Sooner State, came about after lands within the Indian Territory were opened to settlers in 1889.
More than 50,000 people laid claim to land they occupied legitimately as a result of the great run; but many others tried to stake their claims early, before the official noon start signal was given, those who jumped-the-gun were referred to as ‘Sooners.’ On November 16, 1907, Oklahoma was established as the 46th state in the Union. Soon thereafter the discovery of oil rich deposits prompted the birth of towns and a rapid growth in population as well as wealth, at one time the City of Tulsa had more ‘millionaires’ per square mile than any other place in the world. During the 1930s, parts of the state suffered the consequences of over-farming coupled with an extended drought and high winds producing what would come to be called the Dust Bowl. These conditions resulted in thousands of farmers falling into poverty and leading many of them to relocate to areas in California and Oregon.
Oklahoma’s geographical location in terms of its proximity to the Rocky Mountains, and the Gulf of Mexico, as well climate created by this transitional zone, makes the state prime for the generation of not only thunderstorms, but severe rotation thunderstorms known as ‘super cells’. These ‘super cells’ not only produce torrential rainfall, large hail, significant lightning, and severe winds, but more than 60 tornadoes per year, which puts Oklahoma at the top of this list in terms of both frequency and severity of tornadic storms. In fact, my home town, Moore, Oklahoma is been unofficially designated as the “Tornado capital of the world’ having been hit by three F-5 tornadic storms in the last 20 years, one of which generated the highest wind speed ever recorded on the planet.
So who comes to mind, besides “Murph”, when you think about important Oklahomans?
Perhaps the name Will Rogers comes to mind, one of our greatest humorists. But then there is one of the greatest athletes of all times, Jim Thorpe. Ask someone who the greatest pilot was, they might say Wiley Post a pioneer in both long-range and high-altitude aviation, or Gordon Cooper (one of America’s Mercury Astronauts); of course at least 7 other astronauts have called Oklahoma their birth state. Joseph Oklahombi was one the American Code talkers whose use of his native language in communicating military movements, targets, and supply requirements was a communication code never broken by the enemy. Jack Montgomery, of the Cherokee Nation was one of only a few Native Americans awarded the Medal of Honor. Rosella Hightower, Maria Tallchief, Marjorie Tallchief, Moscelyne Larkin and Myra Chouteau were members of the Fire American Indian Prima Ballerinas. Entertainers abound when it comes to Oklahoma’s rolls, from Garth Brooks to Carrie Underwood, from Gene Autry to Brad Pitt, from ‘The Hansons’ to Patti Page., from James Garner to Reba McEntire. And how about broadcasters, being home to the first television station west of the Mississippi, many news anchors and sports broadcasters have started careers in Oklahoma including Bill Moyers, Paul Harvey, Curt Gowdy, and Walter Cronkite. The list goes on and on. Oklahoma is full of firsts as well, the first parking meter, shopping cart, YIELD sign and electric guitar, all invented by Oklahomans. And Boise City, Oklahoma was the only city in the U.S. to be bombed during World War II (a story in-and-of itself). Last, but certainly not least, is the fact that Oklahoma is one of only two states whose capital cities include the state name. (Can you guess the other, well I’m not going to tell ya.)
Sales Tax Facts:
- Sales and use taxes are collected and administered by the Oklahoma Tax Commission for all jurisdictions within the state.
- Under Oklahoma law, state sales tax must be charged and collected on all transfers of title or possession of tangible personal property for valuable consideration that occur within this state. The sales tax is also levied on certain services that are provided in this state. If the transaction occurs within the boundaries of a county or municipality that also levies a sales tax, the applicable county or municipal sales tax must also be charged and collected.
- Oklahoma state use tax must be paid on tangible personal property purchased and brought into this state for storage, use or consumption. If the property is brought into a county or municipality that also levies a use tax, the applicable county or municipal use tax must be paid. If you are a retailer maintaining places of business both within and without this state and are making sales from a place of business outside this state for use in Oklahoma, you are responsible to collect the appropriate state and local use tax from your customer.
- Oklahoma’s state sales tax rate is 4.5% but with county and local taxes, the combined sale tax rate can be as high as 11%, making it one of the highest in the nation.
- Oklahoma allows counties to impost a sales tax of up to 2%, however, beginning in January, 2016, lawmakers added a provision that, for the tax to be approved by voters, it must be limited to “one subject,” meaning that the ballot levy must be specific as to the purpose of the tax.
- Oklahoma is a destination sourcing state. This means that sales tax is based on the location of the buyer, rather than the location of the seller.
- Oklahoma is a member of Streamlined Sales Tax (SST)
- Oklahoma has only one state sales tax holiday during August of each year, and retailers are required to participate and may not collect state and local sales or use taxes on most clothing and footwear that are sold for less than $100 during the holiday.
- While tribes, tribal enterprises and tribal members are immune from state sales taxation within ‘Indian country”, this rule does not operate outside Indian country; however, additional exemptions may apply.
Did you know?
Oklahoma has a Constitutional Prohibition against Debt. When the state’s founders were debating the constitution they looked around and tried to develop a state framework that overcame what they saw as deficiencies within other states. This meant only allowing ‘governmental indebtedness’ by a vote of the people in which they pledge the full faith and credit of the state as a whole as well as specific revenues as security for the debt. Unlike the U.S. Government, and many states, there is no debt not secured by specific revenues approved by the taxpayers.
Couching the Costs. Most states have property taxes on real property (land and structures). But only Oklahoma still charges a “tangible personal property tax” on items like furniture, equipment and jewelry for both households and businesses.
Tune in to this. Want to provide a little background mood music for your customers? You won’t be taxed on the monthly fee you pay for the streaming music service (satellite or Internet) to provide that ambiance, but you do owe tax on any equipment or music product (CDs, players) that you purchased or leased in providing the music.
Bet you didn’t know. It isn’t just the gamblers that pay to play. In Oklahoma, the owners of betting establishments like casinos and track owners have to pay a wagering tax. Yep, here in my home state ‘everyone pays to play.’