Massachusetts: Sales Tax Handbook
What purchases are exempt from the Massachusetts sales tax?
While the Massachusetts sales tax of 6.25% applies to most transactions, there are certain items that may be exempt from taxation. This page discusses various sales tax exemptions in Massachusetts.
Sales Tax Exemptions in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, certain items may be exempt from the sales tax to all consumers, not just tax-exempt purchasers.
Several examples of exemptions are most types of food and grocery products(it must be noted that this does NOT refer to food served at a restaurant), certain types of sanitation and health care items, periodicals, clothes which cost less than one hundred and seventy five dollars, and prescribed medical device.
Many states have special, lowered sales tax rates for certain types of staple goods - such as groceries, clothing and medicines. Restaurant meals may also have a special sales tax rate. Here are the special category rates for Massachusetts:
These categories may have some further qualifications before the special rate applies, such as a price cap on clothing items. Groceries are generally defined as "unprepared food", while pre-prepared food may be subject to the restaurant food tax rate.
Candy and soda may be included or excluded from any preferential tax rate depending on whether or not the state considers them to be a "grocery":
Are services, shipping, installation, etc taxable in Massachusetts?
The taxability of transactions involving services, shipping, and installation of tangible goods can be slightly complicated with various laws applying to slightly different situations. To learn more about how these transactions, and other more complicated situations, are subject to the Massachusetts sales tax see the Massachusetts sales taxability FAQ page.
Other tax-exempt items in Massachusetts
This table lists a number of additional categories of goods and services that are exempt from Massachusetts' sales tax. For a list that also shows taxable items, see the list of taxable and nontaxable items in Massachusetts.
|General Clothing||EXEMPT *|
|Food and Meals|
|Manufacturing and Machinery|
|Utilities & Fuel||EXEMPT|
|Medical Goods and Services|
|Medical Devices||EXEMPT *|
|Newspapers and Magazines|
|General Occasional Sales||EXEMPT *|
|Optional Maintenance Contracts|
|General Optional Maintenance Contracts||EXEMPT *|
|Pollution Control Equipment|
|General Pollution Control Equipment||EXEMPT|
|Software and Digital Products|
|Custom Software - Delivered on Tangible Media||EXEMPT|
|Custom Software - Downloaded||EXEMPT|
|Customization of Canned Software||EXEMPT *|
* See notes in category taxability page for details
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