A recent report on the amount of sales tax Americans pay provided few surprises for Alabama residents.
The study by TaxFoundation shows Alabamians pay the eighth highest sales tax amount in the country. When state, county and local taxes are combined, state residents pay an average of 8.45 cents on every dollar.
Alabama's tax structure has for decades relied heavily on sales taxes to pay for many services, while maintaining one of the lowest property tax rate in the country.
The state is often criticized for having a tax structure that places a higher tax burden on poor residents. States that perform better in tax burden surveys are those with higher property taxes and lower sales tax.
Alabama's statewide tax of 4 percent is low in comparison to the 45 states that have statewide taxes. Colorado charges the lowest statewide sales tax rate at 2.9 percent.
What drives up the average sales tax rate are local and county taxes, which averages 4.5 percent in Alabama.
Tennessee pays the highest sales tax at 9.44 percent, based on data from TaxFoundation. Arizona follows at 9.16 percent and Louisiana is at 8.87 percent.
Alabama exports set a record in 2012, topping $19.5 billion in the value of goods exported.
The total represents a 9.36 percent increase from 2011, state officials said. They added Alabama now ranks 22nd nationally for total dollar exports in 2012.
"This shows that Alabama's economy is continuing to improve, and we are making gains in exporting to countries all over the world," said Gov. Robert Bentley. "Exports help us create and sustain more jobs."
Alabama companies shipped to 188 countries last year, with the top five destination markets of Canada ($3.9 billion), Germany ($2.5 billion), China ($2.4 billion), Mexico ($2 billion) and Japan ($795 million).
Canada and Mexico accounted for $5.96 billion, or 31 percent, of Alabama's total exports. Goods shipped to Germany increased more than 30 percent.
The state's largest merchandise export category is transportation equipment, which experienced a 27 percent growth, from $6 billion to $7.65 billion. Thirty percent of transportation equipment exports were vehicles being shipped to more than 80 countries.
Marriott International Inc. turned a better-than-expected profit in its fourth quarter driven by an increased number of rooms in the hotel company's portfolio and higher occupancy and room rates.
The company, based in Bethesda, Md., said it earned $181 million in the three-month period that ended Dec. 28. That's up from $141 million a year ago.
Revenue in the quarter rose 2 percent to $3.76 billion. The results narrowly topped Wall Street's expectations for earnings of 55 cents per share and revenue of $3.67 billion.
Marriott's board also increased its authorization for buying back stock by an additional 25 million shares, lifting the total to 34 million shares. Marriott operates a luxury hotel in Florence, the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa.
WASHINGTON — The average U.S. rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage rose last week but remained near historic lows. Low mortgage rates have helped support the slowly recovering housing market.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan increased to 3.56 percent from 3.53 percent the previous week.
The Associated Press