Avalara Taxrates > Blog > Sales Tax News > How to Tax Services in New York - Avalara

How to Tax Services in New York


 Feels good.

T’is the season of gifts, and gifts don’t have to be things. Gifts can be experiences. For anyone who has ever gifted (or considered gifting) a manicure/pedicure, massage, tattoo, or even hair removal treatment, this one’s for you.

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has updated several tax bulletins related to sales of the services mentioned above. It is worth noting that the taxability of many of these services is not the same in New York City and the rest of the state.

Beautician and barbering services

  • Exempt from New York state and local sales tax when sold in New York State outside of New York City.
  • Subject to New York City’s local sales tax when sold in New York City.

Sales tax applies to sales of shampoos, conditioners and hair styling products sold to customers by beauticians and barbers, no matter where in the state they occur. However, sales of all dandruff preparations (including dandruff shampoos) are exempt, as are sales of products intended for hair regrowth treatments (such as Rogaine®).

Beauticians and barbers may purchase exempt from sales tax items for resale, with a resale certificate. Sales tax applies to items purchased for their own use (such as combs, scissors). Additional information.

Hair restoration services

  • Exempt from New York state and local sales tax when sold in New York State outside of New York City, no matter who provides the service.
  • Subject to New York City’s local sales tax when sold in New York City and provided by a beautician or barber.
  • Exempt from New York City’s local sales tax when sold in New York City and provided by a licensed physician.

Hair removal services

It’s risky to gift hair removal services. That said, they are:

  • Exempt from New York state and local sales tax when sold in New York State outside of New York City.
  • Subject to New York City’s local sales tax when sold in New York City.

Tax must be charged on sales of products to customers (depilatory creams, hair trimmers, etc.). Products purchased for resale are exempt from sales tax when a resale certificate is presented at the point of purchase. Sales tax must be paid on the purchase of products and equipment used in the business (epilators, wax warmers, etc). Additional information.

Manicure and pedicure services

  • Exempt from New York state and local sales tax when sold in New York State outside of New York City.
  • Subject to New York City’s local sales tax when sold in New York City.

Products sold at retail to customers, such as nail polish and files, are subject to New York sales tax throughout the state, including in NYC. Products purchased for resale may be purchased exempt from tax with a resale certificate. Sales tax must be paid on products purchased for use by the manicure/pedicure service providers.

Sales of products that contain a recognized drug or medicine designed to treat a medical nail problem (fungus, etc), are exempt from sales tax. Additional information.

Massage services

Massage--a nice gift.

  • Sales of massage services outside of New York City but in New York State are exempt from state and local sales tax.
  • Sales of typical massage services are subject to New York City local sales tax when sold in New York City when provided by a licensed massage therapist.
  • Sales of typical massage services are exempt from New York City local sales tax when provided by a licensed physician, physiotherapist, or chiropractor for medical reasons.

Products purchased for resale, such as massage oils and pillows, may be purchased exempt from sales tax with a resale certificate; retail sales tax applies to sales to consumers. Sales tax must be paid on the purchase of products for use by massage service providers. Additional information.

Tanning services

  • Exempt from New York State and local sales tax when sold in New York State outside of New York City.
  • Subject to New York City’s local sales tax when sold in New York City.

Most products sold to customers are subject to sales tax everywhere in the state, and service providers may purchase these products exempt from sales tax with a resale certificate. Sun screen is exempt from sales tax.

Sales tax applies to products and equipment purchased for use in the course of business, such as towels and tanning beds. Additional information.

Tattooing and permanent make-up services

  • Exempt from New York State and local sales tax when sold in New York State outside of New York City.
  • Subject to New York City’s local sales tax when sold in New York City.
  • Exempt from New York City local sales tax when performed for medical reasons (such as cancer radiation therapy) by a person licensed under Title VII of the Education Law.

Sales to customers of tangible personal products such as jewelry or aftercare lotions are subject to sales tax. Products purchased for resale may be purchased tax-free with a resale certificate.

Sales tax must be paid on products purchased for use in the course of business, such as inks, needles and lights. Additional information.

Simplification--a true gift

Simplify sales tax in New York and other states by implementing automated sales tax software as a service. Learn more.


Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.