What Is Taxable?

Retail sales of tangible items in California are generally subject to sales tax.

Examples include furniture, giftware, toys, antiques and clothing. Some labor services and associated costs are subject to sales tax if they are involved in the creation or manufacturing of new tangible personal property.

Some items are exempt from sales and use tax, including:

  • Sales of certain food products for human consumption
  • Sales to the U.S. Government
  • Sales of prescription medicine and certain medical devices
  • Sales of items paid for with EBT cards

Some sales are also nontaxable because the seller and/or purchaser meet certain criteria. A complete list of nontaxable sales is available in Publication 61, Sales and Use Tax: Exemptions and Exclusions (PDF).

To learn more about the sales and use taxes administered by the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, visit Sales and Use Tax in California.

Note: In some cases, retailers must report and pay use tax for items they purchase. The most common example of a purchase subject to use tax is a purchase of an item from an out-of-state retailer for use in California. Out-of-state retailers who are engaged in business in this state are required to collect the use tax, whenever applicable, from the consumer, at the time of the sale. However, if an out-of-state retailer is not engaged in business in this state, the purchaser may be required to self-report the use tax.