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## How To Calculate Sales Tax In Your Head

If you ever have a cart full of shopping products and want to get a rough idea of the sales tax you’ll pay, here’s a guide on how to quickly and accurately estimate your tax bill.

It depends on what state you are in – some states have rates as low as 0% (no sales tax), up to almost 10%. You can determine your state’s rate by checking a receipt on a recent purchase. The total sales tax will be displayed and is usually between 5-9%.

(1) Round your purchase to the nearest ten. If your purchase total is $476.99, round it up to $480.

(2) Know your state’s tax rate and round it to the nearest whole number. It can be as low as 5%, or as high as 9%.

(3) Follow these tips to estimate your tax and total:

5%:

(a) Divide the total of your purchases by 10, ie: remove the last zero from the total. So $480 becomes $48.

(b) Now divide by 2. So $48 becomes $24, your approximate sales tax.

6%:

Follow the steps for the 5% tax. Now divide your original amount by 100 (shift the decimal by two), so $480 becomes $4.80, or about $5.

Now add this amount to the 5% sales tax: $24 + $5 = $29.

7%:

Same as 6%, but add the total divided by 100 twice. So $24 + $5 + $5 = $34.

9%: Divide your total by 10, so $48. Now divide that again by 10 and subtract: $4.8, which is about $5, so $48 – $5 = $43.

8%: Follow the same steps as for the 9% sales tax, but subtract twice: $48 – $5 – $5 = $38.

If you follow these steps, you will be able to quickly estimate the tax on any item you purchase.

Here’s another common mental math question: How can you quickly estimate, in your head, a fair tip for your waiter or waitress?

Most tips say we should tip 15-20%. Here’s how to quickly estimate the top you give a server.

Let’s say your restaurant bill is $53.

(1) Divide by 10: $5.30

(2) Multiply that by 2: $10.60, or about $11.00.

(3) The halfway point between these 2 is the 15% tip, so in this case, about $8.00.

(4) The amount in (2) is a more generous tip of 20%.

Choose an amount between (2) and (3) if your service was extra good.

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