February 20, 1985
__________ ("Company") supplies various products designed for use by crippled persons. You inquire whether the sales of these products are subject to the Massachusetts sales tax, specifically:
(1) Wheelchair lifts for home use that convey a wheelchair vertically from ground level to porch level, or that transport a wheelchair up stairs inside the home;
(2) Bath lifts that hydraulically lift a crippled person in and out of a bathtub; and
(3) Seat lift chairs that mechanically assist a crippled or invalid person from the chair.
Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 64H, Section 2 imposes a five percent sales tax on retail sales of tangible personal property, unless otherwise exempted. Section 6(1) of Chapter 64H exempts from the sales tax sales of
artificial devices individually designed, constructed or altered solely for the use of a particular crippled person so as to become a brace, support, supplement, correction or substitute for the bodily structure including the extremities of the individual;…equipment worn as a correction or substitute for any functioning portion of the body;…sales of crutches and wheelchairs for the use of invalids and crippled persons;
Wheelchair lifts for home use, bath lifts, and seat lift chairs are not devices that are constructed or altered for a particular crippled person so as to become a support or substitute for the bodily structure, nor are they equipment that is worn (such as a hearing aid). The exemption for wheelchairs does not include wheelchair lifts. Likewise, the term "crutches" does not include bath lifts or seat lift chairs.
However, recently enacted Chapter 409 of the Massachusetts Acts of 1984 added to Section 6(1) of Chapter 64H additional exemptions for various medical equipment, including "patient lifts", when prescribed by a physician. The new law applies only to sales of the equipment on or after March 27, 1985. Wheelchair lifts for home use, bath lifts and seat lift chairs fall within the new exemption when prescribed by a physician.
Therefore, the sale of wheelchair lifts for home use, bath lifts and seat lift chairs before March 27, 1985 are subject to the Massachusetts sales tax. Sales of the equipment with a physician's prescription on or after March 27, 1985 are not subject to the Massachusetts sales tax.
Very truly yours,
/s/Ira A. Jackson
Ira A. Jackson
Commissioner of Revenue