Ahoy future cruise travelers! Are you planning an unforgettable cruise to America’s last frontier? As you daydream about dog sled rides under the Northern Lights or whale watching in glacier country, don’t forget the “S word” – sales tax!
Yes, even in the middle of the stunning Alaskan wilderness, the tax collector cometh. Let’s walk the plank together into the complex world of Alaska cruise ship sales taxes. Don’t worry, I’ll throw you a life preserver if it starts to get confusing!
Alaskan Sales Taxes
Now, on to taxes! Alaska itself does not charge a statewide sales tax. But many cities and boroughs have their own local sales taxes. When ships dock, those local taxes apply in most cases. Juneau hits cruise passengers with a 5% tax on all purchases in port, however, Juneau exempts the sales tax on goods and services sold strictly on cruise ships, such as food, alcohol, and salon services when the ship is docked.
Alaska is also known for its seasonal sales taxes that go up during the busy tourist months and back down when visitors dwindle in winter. Popular cruise destinations like Seldovia, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Skagway all have higher sales tax rates from April to September compared to October through March. For example, Sitka hits cruise passengers with a 6% tax in summer versus 5% in winter. The City of Ketchikan joined the club in 2023, increasing its combined city and borough sales tax rate to 8% in summer and just 5.5% in the off-season months. So, when planning your Alaska cruise, factor these higher seasonal sales taxes into your souvenir budget for port stops between spring and fall. You’ll get a tax break on anything purchased locally during the quieter winter months.
Once ships set sail, the rules change. Purchases made within 3 nautical miles of Alaska’s coast fall under local taxes. Basically, if you’re close enough to see Alaska’s shoreline, local taxes likely apply. But once ships reach open federal waters farther than 3 miles out, sales taxes go on holiday! Shop to your heart’s content in the middle of the Inside Passage with no sales tax.
Alaska taxes some goods differently than others too. Alcohol always gets taxed extra no matter where you buy it. There is an additional state alcohol tax levied on beer, wine and liquor provided during the entire cruise, regardless of whether you’re in port or miles offshore. If you purchase a local Alaskan craft beer or wine to unwind on your balcony while glacier gazing, know it’ll come with a little extra tax.
No Sales Tax Holidays
One more important tip – don’t expect any special sales tax holidays while cruising Alaska’s waters. While military bases and some cities in Alaska host periodic tax-free weekends and holidays, cruise ships collect standard taxes year-round. But you’ll be so enthralled by breaching humpback whales, massive glaciers crashing into the sea, bears fishing for salmon, and eagles soaring overhead that you probably won’t even notice the sales tax!
Sales Tax DataLINK
Of course, sales tax issues extend far beyond cruise ships. If you have a business selling products or services across multiple states and jurisdictions, sales tax can be extremely complex to manage. That’s where Sales Tax DataLINK can help! Our automated sales tax solution takes the guesswork out of rates, rules, and filings across over 12,000 taxing jurisdictions. Calculate, collect, file, and remit sales taxes with ease using Sales Tax DataLINK!
Now get out there and start planning your nautical adventure! Just watch out for the glaciers – and sneaky sales taxes. Fair winds and following seas!