What Items Are Sales Tax Exempt in Pennsylvania?

Only certain purchases in Pennsylvania are exempt from the state sales tax, including food, clothing, textbooks, medications and residential heating fuels. Other exempt items include burial items, work uniforms and equipment, personal health and hygiene products, veterinary services, and farming supplies.

Although the majority of products that fall into any of the above categories are tax exempt, a number of limitations are placed on many of these items. Only food that is not considered ready to eat is exempt from the state sales tax. This means most sandwiches, beverages and hot or cold prepared meals do not qualify for the tax exemption. However, the one exception to beverages is tea, as all forms of tea are tax exempt, including hot, cold, powdered and flavored teas. Ice is another product that is tax exempt.

Textbooks are only tax exempt if they are required by the curriculum and sold to the student through an official college or school bookstore. Prescription medications are tax exempt, as are many over-the-counter drugs. Glasses, contact lenses and other eye products are also exempt. Toilet paper, feminine hygiene and oral care products also meet the tax exemption requirement, as do all types of fuel used for residential heating purposes. A full list of all tax exempt items is available through the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.