Boston Dictionary Party

I'm a teacher's assistant for class where some students are doing a group project on tax policy in Massachusetts. Sounds boring, right? Well, when pennies are coming out of your pocketbook* to generate a sales tax revenue stream, it might pay to be an informed citizen.

I thought some of you crafters would be interested in better understanding the finer points of craft material taxation policy here in Taxachusetts. They've thought this through here.

Generally speaking, "Materials that become part of articles of clothing, such as name tags sewn to a garment, are generally tax-exempt."

Sewing goods: Buttons; Elastic binders, tapes; Fabric and materials for clothing; Thread; Yarn (other than rug); Yarn goods; Zippers

Sewing supplies: Dress forms, patterns; embroidery hoops; Knitting bags; Needles, pins, thimbles; Needlework instruction books; Rug yarn; Scissors; Sewing kits; Skein and yarn holders; Tape measures

I had no idea that all this time I was not being taxed for my yarn or fabric! I will have to check my receipts more carefully.

Also, the finer points of sales tax on apparel were amusing. The important distinction is that, "While apparel designed solely for athletic or protective use is taxable, items that are also suitable for everyday use are exempt."

For instance:
  • Boat shoes are tax exempt but bowling shoes are not.
  • Jogging bras are tax exempt but clothing primarily designed to protect from physical injury is not.
  • Choir and clerical vestments are tax exempt but special clothing for jockeys is not.
  • Scarves are tax exempt but handkerchiefs are not.

I guess by that logic, handkerchiefs are considered protective gear.

There are some amusing distinctions in other categories as well.

  • Infant rubber pants are tax exempt but baby wipes are not.
  • Food substitutes are tax exempt but food supplements are not.
  • Comic books are tax exempt but dictionaries and encyclopedias are not.

Hey, that last one seems unfair!

Maybe we should throw some dictionaries in the harbor and start a revolution!


*Translation: Pocketbook is New England speak for what the rest of us refer to as a purse. It took me awhile to figure that one out. I only did after a co-worker told me she put a milkshake in her pocketbook. True story. Before then I thought a pocketbook was a wallet. And yes, the milkshake spilled inside her new leather purse.

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