Guide Sales and Use Tax

This guide has general information about Massachusetts sales and use tax. It describes the tax, what types of transactions are taxable, and what both buyers and sellers must do to comply with the law. This also includes a general listing of items that are exempt from the Massachusetts sales and use tax.

Introduction

6.25% of the sales price or rental charge

Sales tax

The Massachusetts sales tax is 6.25% of the sales price or rental charge of tangible personal property (including gas, electricity, and steam) or certain telecommunications services sold or rented in Massachusetts. The buyer pays the sales tax, as an addition to the purchase price, to the vendor at the time of purchase. The vendor then sends the tax to Massachusetts. 

For motor vehicle and trailer sales, however, the buyer pays the sales tax directly to Massachusetts. For more detailed information on motor vehicle sales taxes, see here or call our Contact Center Bureau at (617) 887-6367 or toll-free in Massachusetts at (800) 392-6089.

Use tax

The Massachusetts use tax is 6.25% of the sales price or rental charge on tangible personal property (including phone and mail order items or items purchased over the Internet, and electronically transferred software) or certain telecommunications services:

  • On which no sales tax (or a sales tax rate less than the 6.25% Massachusetts rate) was paid, and
  • Which is to be used, stored or consumed in Massachusetts.

For example, if you buy furniture for your Massachusetts business or home from an out-of-state firm, you don't pay sales tax, but you still have to pay the use tax. The use tax applies because the furniture wasn't subject to a sales tax in the other state and because it's for use in Massachusetts. Unlike for the sales tax, the buyer generally pays the use tax directly to Massachusetts.

Telecommunications services include telephone and other transmissions of information (such as beeper services, cellular telephone services, and telegram services). Cable television and Internet access are exempt from the sales tax. Generally, the tax on the sale or use of telecommunications services is a tax on transmitting messages or information by various electronic means, but not on the sale or use of information itself.

Sales/Use Tax Vendors

A vendor is anyone who:

  • Sells, rents or leases in Massachusetts generally
  • Buys tangible personal property or telecommunications services for resale in Massachusetts
  • Gets parts to manufacture goods for sale or resale in Massachusetts
  • Has a business location in Massachusetts
  • Has representatives soliciting orders for tangible personal property or telecommunications services within Massachusetts, or
  • Sells to Massachusetts residents or businesses and delivers, repairs or installs goods or telecommunications services within Massachusetts.

Tax-exempt organizations that sell tangible personal property or telecommunications services in the regular course of business are also considered vendors and required to collect sales/use tax.

Vendor responsibilities

Vendors are responsible for:

  • Registering with the Department of Revenue (DOR) to collect sales/use tax
  • Collecting the sales/use tax on taxable sales or rentals of tangible personal property or telecommunications services (the tax must be separately stated and separately charged on all invoices, bills, displays or contracts), and
  • Sending all sales/use taxes to DOR with the appropriate Massachusetts sales/use tax return on time

Out-of-state vendors who meet any of the vendor definitions listed above generally have the same responsibilities as Massachusetts vendors.

Registering to collect sales/use tax

After you register with us, we'll give you a Sales and Use Tax Registration Certificate (Form ST-1) for each business location. The form must be displayed on the business premises where customers can easily see it.

Out-of-state retailers and mail order firms that aren't required by law to register as Massachusetts vendors may register voluntarily to collect use tax.

If you're a cigarette retailer, you must register for sales tax since cigarette sales are subject to the sales tax. You must also have a Massachusetts cigarette retailer's license. You can apply for a cigarette retailer's license online. You should also check with your local Board of Health to see if you also need a local tobacco sales permit.

If you're a tobacco product (cigarettes, cigars, smoking tobacco, and smokeless tobacco) retailer, you must prepay sales tax on such products to your suppliers. You must continue to collect and send sales tax on your tobacco product sales, and may take credit on your sales tax return (for as much prepaid sales tax you paid your suppliers). Wholesalers of tobacco products must collect and send sales tax to retailers and report these sales as taxable sales on their sales tax return.

Keeping sales/use tax records as a vendor

Vendors registered to collect sales/use tax must keep:

  • Complete and accurate records of the gross receipts from all sales, whether taxable or not
  • Copies of sales/use tax returns together with any supporting information necessary to verify the return's accuracy
  • Copies of exempt certificates and credit memos issued to purchasers
  • Records of expenditures from purchases, whether taxable or not

Sufficient records provide the vendor with evidence of each transaction and may include, but are not limited to:

  • Register tapes
  • Evidence of original transactions
  • Purchase journals
  • Cash journals
  • Memorandum accounts, and
  • Ledgers

If you use electronic data processing systems, you must also keep certain electronic records (see 3, 4, and 5).

Records must be kept for at least 3 years from the date the return was filed or the date it was required to be filed, whichever is later. Returns may also be audited for up to 6 years for understating by more than 25% the tax that should have been reported on the return. If you failed to file a return or filed a false or fraudulent return, we may request records at any time.

Bad debts

As a vendor, you must pay tax on all sales even if you didn't receive payment at the time of sale. You can only claim reimbursement for tax remitted on bad debts on an annual basis by filing a Claim for Bad Debt Reimbursement. It must be filed by the due date, including extensions, of your federal income tax return for accounts determined to be worthless during the prior fiscal year.

Occasional out-of-state purchases

People who aren't registered to collect sales/use tax in Massachusetts, and who make an occasional out-of-state purchase for business or personal use, don't need to register. Instead, they must pay their use taxes by filing either a Business Use Tax Return or an Individual Use Tax Return.

Generally, anyone who pays sales/use tax to another state on merchandise or telecommunications services to be used in Massachusetts is entitled to a credit against the Massachusetts use tax (up to the Massachusetts sales/use tax rate, 6.25%). This credit is only granted for sales tax paid to another state if that state has a reciprocal sales/use tax agreement with Massachusetts. Each state gives credit to purchasers for sales tax paid to the other state. If a sales tax rate of less than 6.25% is paid to the other state, the Massachusetts use tax is the difference between the 2 states' sales tax rates.

If a sales or use tax is paid to a state that doesn't have a reciprocal agreement with Massachusetts, then the sales/use tax credit does not apply.

Massachusetts has sales tax exemption agreements with most states, but not all. If you need more detailed information about a specific state, see Exemption from Massachusetts Use Tax for Taxes Paid Under Laws of Another State, or call our Contact Center Bureau at (617) 887-6367 or toll-free in Massachusetts at (800) 392-6089.

Additional Resources

Filing & Paying Sales/Use Tax

Schedule

Annual sales/use tax collected Return filing requirement Payment due
$100 or less Annually due 20 days after the end of the filing period - i.e., Jan. 20.
MassTaxConnect or Form ST -9
With return
From $101 up to $1,200 Quarterly due 20 days after the end of the filing period - i.e., April 20, July 20, October 20 and January 20.
MassTaxConnect or Form ST-9 (for goods); Form STS (for services)
With return
$1,201 or more Monthly due 20 days after the end of the filing period - i.e., February 20 for January filing period.
MassTaxConnect or Form ST-9 (for goods); Form STS (for services)
With return

Businesses and individuals incurring use tax liabilities who are not registered vendors may file a Business Use Tax Return (Form ST-10) or Individual Use Tax Return. Both returns are due annually by April 15. 

Individuals may report and pay any Massachusetts use tax due on their personal income tax return (Form 1Form 1-NR/PY for part-year residents). Taxpayers can self-report ("safe harbor") an estimated amount of use tax based on their Massachusetts adjusted gross income. "Safe harbor" excludes purchases of items that have a sale price of $1,000 or more. 

Requirements

You must file returns and make payments electronically if you are a business with:

  • Annual withholding liabilities
  • Sales/use tax liabilities (including sales tax on meals and telecommunications services), and
  • Room occupancy excise liabilities

that total $5,000 or more when combined together. Once your tax liability reaches the electronic filing threshold in 1 year, you must file and pay electronically for all following years, regardless of the amount due, as long as you are obliged to file 1 of the above 3 tax categories (annual withholding, sales/use tax, room occupancy) in Massachusetts.

All new businesses and existing businesses applying for an additional registration must file and make payments electronically, regardless of the amount of their annual tax liability. Individual taxpayers filing Form ST-11 must also file, make payments, and submit any amendment or abatement requests electronically. 

You must file a return for all periods, even when no tax is due - just enter 0 in the appropriate places. All returns with 0 tax due must be filed electronically, regardless of the amount of the business' total tax liability.

Submitting returns and payments

Trustee and business tax taxpayers may file returns and make payments electronically through MassTaxConnect. You must first register with us to use it.

An electronically filed return or report is considered timely filed if it's electronically submitted (with all accurate required information) on or before the due date, before 12 a.m. EST. After submitting it, you'll receive a confirmation number and time-and-date stamp, which proves time and filing date.

For a paper return to be considered timely filed, we must receive it on or before the due date, or if delivered after the due date, it must be postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service or date-stamped by a private delivery service at least 2 days before the due date.

Paying sales/use tax on boats or motor vehicles

For motor vehicle and trailer sales, the buyer directly pays the Commonwealth. The dealer collects the sales tax on boats and recreational vehicles at the time of sale. For casual sales, the sales/use tax is due before registering or by the twentieth day of the following month, whichever occurs earlier. The sales/use tax on boats and other recreational vehicles must be filed and paid via the online ST-6 application in MassTaxConnect.

To register a boat or recreational vehicle, you need to keep the confirmation page you get after filing and paying the tax.

If you've bought a motor vehicle or trailer that must be registered or titled in Massachusetts, you must file an Application for Title and Registration (Form RMV-1), and pay the sales/use tax within 10 days of buying, transferring, or first using the motor vehicle or trailer.

If the motor vehicle or trailer doesn't have to be registered in Massachusetts (including motor vehicles and trailers that are bought in Massachusetts by nonresidents who will register or title the motor vehicle or trailer outside of Massachusetts), you must still file a Certificate of Payment of Sales or Use Tax and pay the full sales tax to us or the Registry of Motor Vehicles on or before the twentieth day of the month following the month you bought, transferred or first used the motor vehicle or trailer.

See more detailed information on motor vehicle sales taxes here or call our Contact Center Bureau at (617) 887-6367 or toll-free in Massachusetts at (800) 392-6089.

Correcting sales/use tax reporting errors

MassTaxConnect users can use the “amend” feature in MassTaxConnect to change previously filed withholding, sales and use tax (including sales tax on meals) and room occupancy tax returns. Business taxpayers can also use MassTaxConnect to dispute an audit finding or a penalty by choosing "File a Dispute" under "I Want To" in their account for each tax type.

Some taxpayers are required to file amended returns and applications for abatement electronically. See if electronic filing and payment requirements apply to you.

If you're not required to file electronically, you can check the amended return box on your paper return and file it the way you usually do to amend a previously filed return, or file an Application for Abatement (Form ABT) to dispute:

  • An audit finding
  • A penalty, or
  • A responsible person determination (Form ABT must be used to dispute a responsible person determination.)

Penalties and interest charges

There are interest and penalty charges for not filing sales/use tax returns on or before the due date.

  • The penalty for late payment is 1% of the unpaid tax shown on the return per month (or fraction thereof), up to a maximum of 25%.
  • The penalty for failing to file a return by the due date is 1% of the balance due per month (or fraction thereof), up to a maximum of 25%.

If you fail to pay the tax when due, you'll also be charged interest at the federal short-term rate (which can change quarterly) plus 4%, compounded daily. Call our Customer Service Bureau at (617) 887-6367 or toll-free in Massachusetts at (800) 392-6089 for more information on these rates.

If you underpay the sales/use tax due to neglecting or disregarding tax laws, or substantially understate a tax liability on a return, you may be subject to a penalty of 20% of the underpayment if the underpayment exceeds 10% of the tax required to be shown on the return or $1,000, whichever is greater.

Willful tax evasion is a felony punishable by a fine up to $100,000 for individuals or $500,000 for corporations and/or imprisonment for up to 5 years.

Willful failure to collect and pay over taxes is also a felony and is punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 5 years.

Taxpayers who do not comply with the requirements to file returns, make payments or electronically submit data to us will be penalized up to $100 for each return, payment or data transfer they submitted incorrectly. See Penalty for Failure to File, Report or Pay in the Prescribed FormatRevised Electronic Filing Requirements, and Electronic Filing Thresholds Modified for more information.

Additional Resources

Tax-Exempt Items & Sales

The following categories of sales or types of transactions are generally exempted from the sales/use tax:

Food & clothing

Sales of food for human consumption (other than meals sold by a restaurant) and clothing costing $175 or less. For items that cost more than $175, sales tax is only due on the amount over $175 per item.

Periodicals

Sales of periodicals such as newspapers and magazines. Newsletters, however, are generally not treated as newspapers and may be taxable.

Admission tickets

Sales of tickets to activities such as sporting and amusement events.

Utilities and heating fuel

Sales of utilities (gas, steam, electricity) and heating fuel to:

  • Residential users - Residential use includes use in any dwelling where people customarily reside on a long-term basis, whether or not they purchase the fuel, including:
    • Apartment buildings
    • Rooming houses
    • Nursing homes
    • Single family or multifamily homes (but generally doesn't include hotels)
    Residential users don't have to present exemption certificates.
  • Small businesses - Businesses with 5 or fewer employees and gross income of less than $1 million. Businesses with multiple locations employing fewer than 5 people at any 1 location must use the total number of employees from all locations. To claim the exemption, present a Small Business Energy Exemption Certificate to the vendor.
  • Certain industrial users - Manufacturing facilities that use at least 75% of their energy in manufacturing or heating the manufacturing facility. Eligible industrial users must provide an Exempt Use Certificate

Telephone services to residential users

Sales of local residential telephone services billed on a recurring basis or for message unit charges (when provided to a residential purchaser), up to a total of $30 per month. This includes service provided to an individual for personal use at their residential address (including an individual dwelling unit such as an apartment).

For institutions where individuals reside (e.g., schools, nursing homes), telephone service is considered residential if it's provided to and paid for by an individual resident rather than by the institution. Telephone service provided to a business is not residential service even if the business is located in an individual's home.

If an otherwise residential telephone is used for business purposes, the business must file a Business Use Tax Return and pay tax on the service used.

Transportation services

These services are generally exempt. For example, a separately stated transportation charge for shipping by a common carrier is exempt if the transportation occurs after the property is sold. See more information about shipping and handling charges here.

Personal or professional services

Services such as:

  • Accounting
  • Insurance
  • Legal and medical services
  • Haircuts
  • Car repairs

Items sold along with services (e.g., a bottle of shampoo from a salon, parts for a car repair), are taxable and must be itemized separately on the bill. Tax law treats some products as services and therefore exempts them, while others may have taxable and non-taxable elements. Although other products may be labeled custom or a service, they may not meet the legal definition for tax purposes.

If you're a service provider with questions about the taxability of your transactions, refer to Services Enterprises or contact our Rulings and Regulations Bureau by writing to:

Department of Revenue
Rulings and Regulations Bureau
PO Box 9566, Boston, MA 02114-9566

Casual and isolated sales

Infrequent and nonrecurring transactions made by people or businesses that don't regularly make such sales. For example, sales of used appliances by a homeowner or sales at infrequent yard sales. Please note that generally, casual sales of cars, boats or trailers are taxable except for certain family transactions. See more detailed information on casual and isolated sales here.

Resales

Sales where the purchaser intends to resell the item or telecommunications services as part of business. The seller must be given a Sales Tax Resale Certificate and retain it as proof the sale was exempt for the reasons stated on the certificate. Vendors can confirm the validity of their customers' sales and use tax registration and resale certificates online through MassTaxConnect.

Sales Tax Resale Certificates are invalid for the sale or purchase of tobacco products.

Out-of-state delivery

Sales where the purchaser accepts title to and possession of an item outside of Massachusetts. Similarly, if a vendor must deliver to an out-of-state purchaser's address or an interstate common carrier, the sale is not taxable in Massachusetts. However, any taxable item brought into the state within 6 months of purchase for use, storage or consumption in Massachusetts is generally subject to the use tax.

Drop shipments

A business with nexus in Massachusetts is required to collect tax when it ships goods to a consumer in Massachusetts on behalf of a retailer that is not required to collect the tax because it does not have nexus with Massachusetts. See a more detailed explanation of the rules regarding drop shipment transactions here.

Exempt organizations

Sales to organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (such as charitable and nonprofit organizations), as well as sales to agents of such organizations. To claim the exemption, the buyer or their agent must provide the vendor with:

Government agencies

Sales made directly to federal and Massachusetts state or municipal government agencies or entities. To qualify, the agency must be a regular government department, or an entity wholly owned by the government, which exclusively performs governmental duties.

Additionally, sales of tangible personal property, including meals, to agents of governmental entities, are exempt, provided certain requirements are met. See Sales and Use Tax Exemptions: Agents of Exempt Entities and Sales Tax on Meals for more information.

Contractors and subcontractors

Sales of tangible personal property for use in fulfilling government public works projects to certain contractors and subcontractors acting as agents for governmental entities.

To claim the exemption, the contractor or subcontractor must provide the vendor with a signed copy of a Contractor's Sales Tax Exempt Purchase Certificate, and a copy of the government agency's Certificate of Exemption (Form ST-2) issued by DOR. Contractors and subcontractors must indicate on Form ST-5C that they're claiming the exemption for property used to fulfill a contract to provide qualified services in a public project.

Selling materials, tools, fuel, machinery and replacement parts to contractors for 1 of the exempt uses described in G.L. c. 64H, § 6(r) and § 6(s) (e.g., manufacturing, research and development, agricultural production) are also exempt, regardless of whether the contractor is purchasing as an agent of the party that will use these items in the manner exempted by these provisions. Contractors can buy qualifying property by presenting an Exempt Use Certificate to their vendors. Such contractors bear the burden of proof of showing on an audit that the items purchased are or will be used in an exempt way. If the items don't qualify for an exemption, a contractor will be liable for the tax.

Manufacturers

Sales of:

  • Materials
  • Tools
  • Fuel
  • Machinery, and
  • Replacement parts

That will be used directly and exclusively in the actual manufacture, processing or conversion of the tangible personal property to be sold, including publishing a newspaper or operating a commercial radio broadcasting or television transmission.

Sales of the above items that are consumed and directly used in research and development by a manufacturing corporation or a research and development corporation generally are also exempt. See more information about the qualifications of a research and development corporation here, or call our Rulings and Regulations Bureau at (617) 626-3250. 

The vendor must get an Exempt Use Certificate from the purchaser and maintain proper records of these sales.

Contact

Since tax law is complex, the guidelines listed below may not apply to every transaction. To avoid any interest or penalty charges on tax that was not collected properly, if you have any questions, call our Customer Service Bureau at (617) 887-6367 or toll-free in Massachusetts at (800) 392-6089, or request a letter ruling by writing to:

     Department of Revenue
     Rulings and Regulations Bureau
     P.O. Box 9566, Boston, MA 02114-9566

Additional Resources

Apparel & Fabric Goods

Overview

Clothing is generally exempt from the sales tax. However, any individual clothing item that costs more than $175 is taxable on the amount it goes over $175. Thus, the tax on a $200 suit would be $1.56 (which is 6.25% of the taxable $25 difference). If buying multiple items, any sales tax is charged only on individual items over $175, no matter what the total bill is.

While apparel designed solely for athletic or protective use is taxable, items that are also suitable for everyday use are exempt.

Exempt items

  • Aprons (household, shop)
  • Bathing suits
  • Belts, buckles, suspenders
  • Children's novelty costumes
  • Choir, clerical vestments
  • Cloth (synthetic or natural fiber)
  • Costumes
  • Footwear (boat shoes, innersoles, jogging shoes, overshoes, sandals, shoelaces, shoes and boots, slippers, sneakers and tennis shoes)
  • Gloves (dress, casual, gardening)
  • Gym uniforms
  • Hats, caps, earmuffs
  • Hosiery, socks, garters and garter belts
  • Jackets, windbreakers
  • Jogging bras
  • Leotards, tights
  • Materials that become part of articles of clothing, such as name tags sewn to a garment
  • Neckwear, ties, scarves
  • Rainwear
  • Sewing goods (buttons, elastic binders, tapes, fabric and materials for clothing, thread, yarn (other than rug), yarn goods, zippers)
  • Ski pants
  • Tennis clothing
  • Uniforms (band, camping, fire, nurse, police, waiter/waitress)
  • Work clothes

Taxable items

  • Bathing and shower caps
  • Briefcases
  • Clothing primarily designed to protect from physical injury
  • Equipment, special clothing for jockeys
  • Footwear (bowling shoes, cleated athletic shoes, football shoes, golf shoes, riding boots, shoe bags, trees, shoe polish, brushes, ski boots, waders)
  • Hair notions (barrettes, combs and brushes, etc.)
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Handbags, purses
  • Jewelry and accessories
  • Luggage
  • Protective helmets
  • Sewing supplies (dress forms, patterns, embroidery hoops, knitting bags, needles, pins, thimbles, needlework instruction books, rug yarn, scissors, sewing kits, skein and yarn holders, tape measures)
  • Athletic uniforms (baseball, football, etc.)
  • Wallets

Food & Meals

Overview

Food products for human consumption and food items purchased with federal food stamps are generally exempt from the sales tax.

The following operations, whether they stand alone or are part of another business activity, are considered restaurants and are required to collect the sales tax on meals:

  • Cafes
  • Canteen trucks or wagons
  • Catering businesses
  • Cocktail lounges and bars
  • Coffee shops
  • Diners
  • Dining rooms
  • Hotel and motel dining rooms
  • Ice cream trucks and other food stands
  • Lunch counters
  • Private or social clubs
  • Snack bars (including theatre snack bars) and salad bars
  • Street wagons or carts
  • Taverns
  • Vending machines or "honor snack trays" that sell snacks or candy with a sales price of $3.50 or more. Honor snack trays consist of any vending arrangements in which snacks or candy are available in an open tray for employees in an establishment that normally does not sell food and for which payment is made on the honor system.

See more detailed information about sales tax on meals here or check out our Guide to Sales Tax on Meals.

Exempt items

  • Breath-freshening candies
  • Dietetic candies
  • Edible oils
  • Food oils
  • Food substitutes
  • Gum
  • Salt and sugar substitutes
  • Nonmedicated cough drops
  • Baked goods sold in units of 6 or more for takeout. Baked goods in units of 6 or more include any variety of items totaling 6 or more servings. (e.g., 2 bagels, 3 muffins and 1 danish; or a whole pie, cake, loaf of bread, etc.)
  • Snacks or candy sold through a vending machine or "honor snack tray" for less than $3.50

Taxable items

  • Antacids
  • Dietary supplements
  • Vitamins and food supplements
  • Weight-loss aids and preparations

Food or beverages prepared for human consumption and provided by a restaurant or restaurant part of a store are taxable as "meals", including those sold on a "take out" or "to go" basis.

Health Care Items

Overview

The law generally determines whether health care items and equipment are taxable or not. 

Rentals, sales, and repairs of the following are only exempt when prescribed by a registered physician:

  • Alternating pressure pad units
  • Canes, tripod canes
  • Enteral, parenteral feeding devices worn on the body
  • Hospital beds for home use
  • Incubators
  • Kidney dialysis machines
  • Life-sustaining resuscitators
  • Oxygen concentrators, masks, humidifiers, etc.
  • Pacemakers
  • Patient lifts
  • Suction machines, including breast pumps
  • Ultrasonic nebulizers

Exempt items

  • Abdominal belts
  • Baby oil
  • Baby pants
  • Braces, supports, and corrective devices fit to the patient
  • Breast pumps (on prescription only)
  • Colostomy and ileostomy bags, pouches, and solutions
  • Crutches, crutch cushions, and tips
  • Diapers
  • Diaper linings
  • Hearing aid batteries
  • Hearing aids worn on the body
  • Eyeglasses (prescription only)
  • Incontinence pants
  • Over-the-counter medications sold on prescription
  • Oxygen, blood and blood plasma
  • Prescription drugs
  • Prostheses
  • Sanitary napkins and belts
  • Syringes and needles (with insulin prescription)
  • Tampons
  • Wheelchairs

Taxable items

  • Adhesive tape
  • Alcohol
  • Antacids
  • Athletic supporters
  • Baby lotions and powders
  • Bandages and bandage scissors
  • Bedpans
  • Bedwetting alarm devices
  • Blood diagnostic products
  • Breast pumps (if no prescription)
  • Condoms
  • Cosmetics
  • Cotton balls
  • Cotton swabs
  • Deodorants, antiperspirants
  • Finger cots
  • Hairnets
  • Heating pads
  • Hot water bottles
  • Ice bags
  • Invalid cushions and rings
  • Lamps (heat and sun)
  • Nonprescription medicine
  • Over-the-counter medications not sold on prescription
  • Powders, deodorant, douches
  • Pregnancy test systems
  • Prosthesis powder and shampoo
  • Respirators
  • Supports (ankle and wrist)
  • Suspensories
  • Syringes (except with insulin prescription)
  • Thermometers
  • Urinals
  • Vaporizers
  • Vitamins
  • Weight-loss aids and preparations

Home & Household Items

Overview

Household items generally are taxable, but seeds used to grow food for human consumption are exempt.

Owners or tenants of residential property located in Massachusetts can get a credit against their personal income tax for expenses related to renewable energy source property. To get the credit, complete and file Massachusetts Schedule EC, Solar and Wind Energy Credit, with your annual income tax return.

Exempt items

  • Commercial gun safes and trigger lock devices
  • Equipment directly related to solar, wind-powered or heat-pump systems (if the system is used as a primary or auxiliary power system for heating or supplying a taxpayer's principal residence in Massachusetts)
  • Fertilizer
  • Flags (U.S. only)
  • Fuels (charcoal, combustible fireplace logs, firewood, kindling, lighter fluid for grills, propane gas for grills)
  • Gas, steam, electricity and heating fuel
  • Infant supplies (baby buntings, bibs, diapers (cloth and disposable), linings, receiving blankets, rubber pants)
  • Plants and seeds that produce food for human consumption
  • Telecommunications services (up to $30 per month for residential use)

Taxable items

  • Appliances
  • Building materials
  • Fencing
  • Furniture and draperies
  • Hardware
  • Hobby supplies
  • Hoses and sprinklers
  • Infant supplies (baby harnesses, carriages, strollers, car seats, restraints, changing tables, cribs and crib blankets, diaper bags, nursing bottles, nipples, teething items, wipes)
  • Lawn furniture
  • Lawnmowers, spreaders, sweepers
  • Paint and painting supplies
  • Peat moss
  • Pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and miticides (unless purchased by an applicator licensed or certified by the Department of Agricultural Resources or are used in agricultural production)
  • Plants and seeds that do not produce food for human consumption
  • Potting soil, grass, shrubs
  • Shovels and rakes
  • Snowblowers
  • Structural components of a house, such as glass windows (unless they meet DOR's definition of custom-made)
  • Tools
  • Umbrellas

Reading Materials & Stationery

Overview

Reading materials and stationery are generally taxed. Exemptions are allowed for newspapers, magazines, books used for religious worship, and educational textbooks.

Exempt items

  • Bibles, Korans, etc.
  • Books required by educational institutions for instruction
  • Magazines, newspapers and comic books
  • Prayer books and missals

Taxable items

  • Books and paperbacks
  • Dictionaries and encyclopedias
  • Greeting cards
  • School supplies
  • Stationery and paper goods
Image credits:  Massachusetts State House (Shutterstock)

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