Last weekend to shop before sales tax hike in California

If you were eyeballing that big ticket item by any chance, and you live in California, you might want to consider popping for it this weekend.

Next weekend it will cost a good deal more, thanks to a one-cent-on-the-dollar increase in sales tax in California, beginning April 1.

As of Wednesday, the sales tax on California purchases will range from 8.25% to 10.25%, depending on additional local taxes. If you're looking at buying a $30,000 car, those kinds of taxes can quickly add up.

So although merchants of all stripes are gearing up for a blow-out sale weekend, many are also worried that any temporary boom will quickly be tempered by a deafening snap, as consumers in California shut their wallets en mass.

The sales tax is temporary, at least until California somehow heaves itself from the brink of insolvency. It will expire on July 1, 2011 or July 1, 2012, depending on whether voters approve the Budget Stabilization Act in a statewide election May 19. The legislature also approved a hike in vehicle licensing fees.

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