Technical Information Release

Technical Information Release TIR 01-6: Tattooing and Body Art; Sales and Use Taxation

Date: 06/15/2001
Organization: Massachusetts Department of Revenue
Referenced Sources: Massachusetts General Laws

Sales and Use Tax


In Lanphear v. Commonwealth, Suffolk Superior Court No. 99-1896-B (October 20, 2000, effective January 31, 2001), the court held that the statutory ban on tattooing in Massachusetts is unconstitutional. In anticipation of the growth of this business, the Department of Revenue announces that the Department will treat the creation of body art as a service transaction governed by the Services Enterprises regulation, 830 CMR 64H.1.1.


As providers of a service, creators of body art are treated as the consumers of tangible personal property used (e.g., inks, needles) in tattooing, piercing, scarification, etc. and should pay sales or use tax on their purchase of such items. Artists who also sell items of tangible personal property, either separately or as a part of the overall service, must register as vendors, and collect and pay over the sales or use tax to the Department of Revenue. Sales of items of tangible personal property sold separately are always taxable. Sales of tangible personal property as part of the service are taxable if the cost of the item(s) is separately stated; if there is no separate statement of cost, the entire transaction is taxable unless the cost of the tangible personal property is less than 10% of the total cost. In such a case, no tax is imposed on the transaction. Sales tax, where chargeable, is imposed at 5% of the sales price of the property sold. G.L. c. 64H, § 2.


This TIR is effective immediately.

Bernard F. Crowley, Jr.,
Acting Commissioner of Revenue

June 15, 2001

TIR 01-6

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