California Sales Tax Exemptions / Tax Free Items California:


What purchases are exempt from the California sales tax?

While the California sales tax of 6.00% applies to most transactions, there are certain items that may be exempt from taxation. This page discusses various sales tax exemptions in California.

Sales Tax Exemptions in California

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

Medical devices such as prosthetics are exempted from sales tax. In addition, certain groceries, hot beverages, some types of farm items, and certain alternative-energy device are also considered to be exempt from the California sales tax.

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 California:





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 California? Candy IS considered a grocery in California
Is soda taxable in California? Soda is NOT considered a grocery in California

Are services, shipping, installation, etc taxable in California?

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 California sales tax see the California sales taxability FAQ page.

Other tax-exempt items in California

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

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
Occasional Sales
General Occasional Sales EXEMPT
Optional Maintenance Contracts
General Optional Maintenance Contracts EXEMPT
Janitorial Services EXEMPT
Transportation Services EXEMPT
Software and Digital Products
Canned Software - Downloaded EXEMPT *
Custom Software - Delivered on Tangible Media EXEMPT
Custom Software - Downloaded EXEMPT
Digital Products EXEMPT

* See notes in category taxability page for details

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** This Document Provided By SalesTaxHandbook **

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