October 22, 1992

You request a letter ruling on the application of the Massachusetts Sales Tax, G.L. c. 64H, to sales of a product sold under the name of ("the product"). The product, which resembles a personalized shopping cart that converts into a seat, is designed to facilitate walking and shopping activities for those whose mobility is compromised due to age or infirmity. Constructed of sturdy, lightweight chromed tubular steel, the product has locking handbrakes for control and is adjustable for height, and it folds easily for transporting in the trunk or backseat of an automobile. The purpose of the product, according to the brochure, is to provide users with the freedom and independence to travel where they want, with the security that the product is with them to "take the weight off their legs, support their backs and offer them place to sit and rest."

Discussion

Massachusetts imposes a five percent sales tax on sales and rentals of tangible personal property in Massachusetts by any vendor, unless otherwise exempt. See G.L. c. 64H, § 2. The exemptions to the sales tax, which are found in section 6 of Chapter 64H, include an exemption, in pertinent part, for "...crutches and wheel chairs for the use of invalids and crippled persons...." G.L. c. 64H, § 6(l).
Based on the information provided, the product appears to be of a hybrid nature, serving the user in the same manner as a crutch and a wheelchair, on the one hand, and a portable shopping cart, on the other hand. The Department has previously ruled that crutches and wheelchairs are exempt from sales tax. See Letter Ruling 81-57; 85-33. While in order to be exempt, crutches and wheelchairs must be "for the use of invalids and crippled persons", we note that dictionary definitions of the term "invalid" include a sickly, chronically ill, or disabled person. See, e.g. American Heritage Dictionary 672 (Second College Edition 1979). See also, e.g. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary 636 (1985).

Like a crutch or wheelchair, the product is designed to facilitate a person's mobility. Unlike a crutch or wheelchair, however, it has the added utility of a shopping cart. This dual function as a portable shopping cart does not alter its essential character as an aid to a person's mobility. A standard portable shopping cart has a much larger capacity for groceries or goods and does not have locking hand brakes. Moreover, the basket of standard portable shopping carts is not designed to be positioned for use as a seat. Based on the facts as you state them, we determine that the sale of the product qualifies for exemption under G.L. c. 64H, § 6(l) under the clause that exempts "crutches and wheelchairs".


Very truly yours,
Mitchell Adams
Commissioner of Revenue
October 22, 1992
LR 92-5