April 16, 1986

You ask whether the Massachusetts sales tax applies to the retouching of photographs with an airbrush, for a fee, pursuant to a customer's request.

A five percent tax is imposed by G.L. c. 64H, § 2 on retail sales of tangible personal property in Massachusetts. The definition of "sale" includes "[t]he producing, fabricating, processing, printing or imprinting of tangible personal property for a consideration for consumers who furnish either directly or indirectly the materials used in the producing, fabricating, processing, printing or imprinting." G.L. c. 64H, § 1(12)(b).

For sales tax purposes the definition of "retail sales" excludes "professional.or personal service transaction, which involve no sale or which involve sales inconsequential elements for which no separate charges are made." G.L. c. 64H, § 1(13)(c). The retouching of photographs for a fee is a personal service transaction which involves no sale. Cf., Letter Ruling 80-80 and 82-85 (refinishing equipment and furniture). It follows that this transaction is not a retail sale and is therefore not subject to the sales tax.

Very truly yours,
Ira A. Jackson
Commissioner of Revenue
April 16, 1986
LR 86-3