DOI: 10.1111/pbaf.12353 ISSN: 0275-1100

Local sales tax exportation: The impact of commuters, tourists, and college students on the tax base

Whitney B. Afonso, Jeremy G. Moulton
  • Public Administration
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Finance


Local sales tax bases are determined by factors including businesses, residential populations, and nonresidential visitors. This paper capitalizes on the COVID‐19 pandemic, using the sudden absence of in‐commuters, tourists, and college students to estimate the contributions these populations have on the sales tax base in North Carolina's 100 counties. The findings suggest that losing one in‐commuter results in a loss of roughly $1000 a month in taxable sales. Similarly, the loss of one hotel night booking results in a loss in taxable sales of approximately $525. This translates, for the median county, to exporting 17% to in‐commuters and 12% to tourists. The impact on the loss of a residential college student is less clear.

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