South Carolina Sales Tax Exemptions / Tax Free Items South Carolina: Sales Tax Handbook

South Carolina:

What purchases are exempt from the South Carolina sales tax?

While the South Carolina sales tax of 6% applies to most transactions, there are certain items that may be exempt from taxation. This page discusses various sales tax exemptions in South Carolina.

Sales Tax Exemptions in South Carolina

In South Carolina, certain items may be exempt from the sales tax to all consumers, not just tax-exempt purchasers.

Several examples of items that are considered to be exempt are tangible personal property which has been sold to the federal government, textbooks, books, magazines, periodicals, newspapers, and access to online information systems used in the course of study in either primary, secondary or college education. In addition, domesticated animals which have been raised in South Carolina for purpose of providing food or as beast of burden, newsprint paper, newspapers and religious publications including the Bible and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, are considered to be exempt.

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 South Carolina:





Prepared Food


Prescription Drugs


OTC Drugs


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":

Is candy taxable in South Carolina? Candy IS considered a grocery in South Carolina
Is soda taxable in South Carolina? Soda IS considered a grocery in South Carolina

Are services, shipping, installation, etc taxable in South Carolina?

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 South Carolina sales tax see the South Carolina sales taxability FAQ page.

Other tax-exempt items in South Carolina

This table lists a number of additional categories of goods and services that are exempt from South Carolina's sales tax. For a list that also shows taxable items, see the list of taxable and nontaxable items in South Carolina.

Category Exemption Status
Food and Meals
Grocery Food EXEMPT *
Manufacturing and Machinery
Machinery EXEMPT
Raw Materials EXEMPT
Utilities & Fuel EXEMPT
Medical Goods and Services
Medical Devices EXEMPT *
Medical Services EXEMPT
Newspapers and Magazines
Newspapers EXEMPT
Occasional Sales
General Occasional Sales EXEMPT
Motor Vehicles EXEMPT *
Optional Maintenance Contracts
Parts Purchased for Use in Performing Service Under Optional Maintenance Contracts EXEMPT *
Janitorial Services EXEMPT
Transportation Services EXEMPT
Software and Digital Products
Canned Software - Downloaded EXEMPT *
Custom Software - Downloaded EXEMPT *
Digital Products EXEMPT
General Trade-Ins EXEMPT

* See notes in category taxability page for details

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