The retail sale of tangible personal property is taxable in every state with a sales and use tax program. Since medicine and medical appliances, supplies, etc. are tangible personal property, they are subject to sales or use tax unless an exemption applies. Most taxing jurisdictions provide exemptions for medicine and certain medical supplies and appliances, although the items exempted and justifications for exemption vary from state to state. The tax status of a given product might depend on whether it is: (a) prescribed by a physician, (b) for the treatment of underprivileged or disabled individuals, (c) subject to the oversight of the Federal Drug Administration, or (d) distributed by a hospital or licensed care facility. Consequently, businesses operating in this industry are faced with an ever-evolving landscape of differing rules and convoluted definitions that can make one’s head spin and potentially lead to under or over remittance of tax.
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