How Penny Sales Tax Responsibly Builds Strong Wyoming Communities

How Penny Sales Tax Responsibly Builds Strong Wyoming Communities Main Photo

4 Oct 2022

News, Client Feature Article

This article originally appeared on and was written for Evanston Wyoming Economic Development by Golden Shovel Agency.

What is a Specific Purpose Sales and Use Tax? First, it’s a sales tax in Wyoming that goes by several names: SPOT, special purpose tax, penny tax, temporary penny tax, sixth penny tax, 6% special purpose tax, and 1% special excise tax. All the names give indications of the nuts and bolts of the tax, but let’s discuss its benefits first.

How a Sixth Penny Tax Benefits Your Community

The sixth penny tax quite simply pays for capital projects residents want and need in a fiscally responsible manner. Unlike bonds, this tax does not put governing bodies in future debt by making improvements today. Instituting a penny tax always requires the approval of the county’s voters. During elections, residents vote on clearly specified and budgeted projects such as sewer line upgrades, fire truck purchases, multi-use event and recreation facility construction, library renovations, or road repair. 

The penny tax is very specific and controlled. The revenue only goes to those projects approved by a majority of the voters, and it cannot be used for the operating expenses of local government. Once the necessary dollar amount designated on the ballot has been generated, the tax goes away or sunsets. Alternatively, the tax can be specified to span a specific time period, such as three months. Either way, once the approved endpoint is reached, the tax ceases to be collected. 

While residents are in complete control of instituting the penny tax, they are not the only ones who pay it. Because it is levied on all taxable goods and services, anyone who makes purchases pays it, including tourists and industries.

You can find a real life example of sixth penny tax propositions here and the sample ballot here.

Wyoming Sales Tax Primer

The majority of the 23 counties in Wyoming collect 6% sales tax: 4% general state sales tax + fifth penny general purpose sales tax + sixth penny specific purpose sales tax. Only Sublette County remains at the base rate of 4%. Just four counties — Big Horn, Lincoln, Sweetwater, and Uinta — are at 5%.

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Ellen Williams
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Ellen Williams is a Lead Copywriter for Golden Shovel Agency. Her unique skill sets expand from the foundation of science, academia, writing/editing, and project management. She is adept at breaking down articles and information precisely and clearly to educate general and professional audiences alike. Uniquely, while she is not practicing as a doctor, she has an M.D. and a strong laboratory science background.