New York – Taxability of Medical Products

SALT Report 1591 – The New York Department of Taxation and Finance issued an Advisory Opinion regarding the taxability of electrical muscle stimulator units, EMS placement belts, cervical pillows, orthopedic lumbar cushions, massage devices, orthopedic mattresses, whirlpool baths, and infrared heating lamps sold directly to patients who present a written doctor’s prescription.

New York Tax Law §1115(a)(3) provides an exemption from sales and use tax for medical equipment, supplies, machinery, apparatus, and other devices that are intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of illnesses or diseases or for the correction or alleviation of physical incapacity in human beings.
While the Taxpayer’s products are generally used for medical reasons the Department determined that the following items may be used in the absence of illness or injury:
  • Electrical muscle stimulator units and EM S placement belts are useful as a strength training tool for healthy people
  • Cervical pillows and orthopedic lumbar cushions are used to prevent injury, provide comfort, or both
  • Infrared heating lamps are used in saunas, clubs, hot yoga studios, and in food preparation areas to keep food warm
Based on the above facts, the Taxpayer’s products do not qualify for the medical equipment and supplies exemption because they can be used in the absence of illness, injury, or physical incapacity.
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