February 12, 1985
You request a ruling regarding the application of the Massachusetts sales tax to your purchases of "Slim-Fast," a dietary aid.
"Slim-Fast" is a powdered substance that is mixed with milk and is eaten as a pudding. The ingredients include sugars, nonfat dry milk, food starch, cocoa, soy protein, bran fiber, various forms of sodium and other additives, vitamins, and minerals. The directions on the label suggest using "Slim-Fast" to replace one to two meals a day. The label states that the product "tastes so rich and delicious you'll hardly believe you're dieting."
"Sales of food products for human consumption" are exempt from the Massachusetts sales tax. Included among "food products" are milk and milk products, vegetables and vegetable products, sugar and sugar products, cocoa and coca products. "[M]edicines, tonics, and preparations in liquid, powdered, granular, tablet, capsule, lozenge, and pill form sold as dietary supplements or adjuncts" are subject to the sales tax. (G.L. c. 64H, § 6(h)).
"Slim-Fast" contains a variety of food products. It is sold to dieters as a substitute for meals and advertises itself as being pleasant to eat. "Slim-Fast" is not sold as a dietary supplement, but as a food. Therefore, sales of "Slim-Fast" are not subject to the sales tax.
Very truly yours,
/s/Ira A. Jackson
Ira A. Jackson
Commissioner of Revenue
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