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But I'm like you, I figured this would be easy-peasy to find... but I was surprised that there isn't some open-source database or something available.
In that case, the $1k database cost seems insignificant compared with the labor involved in tax form preparation.
We're just building the system to their specs.
Sales tax is for sales occurring within a given jurisdiction. Unfortunately, states / counties / school boards / boy scout troops can't enforce taxes outside their regions. So, if you don't have facilities (a tax nexus) within a jurisdiction, you can essentially thumb your nose at the local taxes.
The Feds have been talking about a federal tax for a long time, so that they can tax all interstate transactions, but there's been push back from some lobby groups, and some constitutional interpretations (Supreme Court 1992) that are slowing that down.
Where it gets really intersting is in a little thing called a "use tax". For every sales tax there is an equivalent use tax. Everything that you buy that doesn't get taxed by your state's sales tax is taxed instead by the use tax. The buyer is legally required to report and pay this tax, which they never do for all the obvious reasons.
Some states are forming agreements to collect each others' sales taxes, so merchants may have to collect for neighboring states, depending on the terms of the interstate agreement.
You can purchase an annual subscription; they offer various levels. As an example for $49.99 you can make 500 calls a month... you pass the zip code and get back a sales tax rate.
I can sticky you the link or just go to StrikeIron ... >> Marketplace >> Government