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A good fit: tax requirements for tailors in California


 Charges to alter new and used clothing are taxed differently in California.

For one reason or another, not everyone can wear clothes off the rack. To achieve a perfect fit, many of us turn to tailors. In a similar fashion, California sales tax is tailored to fit different alteration services.

A tailor’s charges for altering new pieces are subject to California sales tax whether included in the selling price of the clothing or separately stated. The state considers this service as essentially “finalizing the creation of that new clothing.” However, a tailor’s charges for altering used clothing are exempt from tax in California. These rules apply to tailors, not clothes cleaning or dyeing establishments.

New clothing

To be considered new, garments must: have labels or tags still attached; unfinished cuffs, hems, or other parts; or never have been worn previously by the customer (except to try on). “New” clothing includes newly purchased second-hand clothing, such as items from a consignment or thrift shop.

Exempt alterations to new apparel include adding or removing material, changing the design, hemming, modifying waist size, restyling the item, and shortening or lengthening sleeves or pants.

Used clothing

Used clothing is clothes been previously worn by the customer, or clothes in a state of disrepair (i.e., torn or worn out).

Taxable alterations to used clothing include mending or patching a hole, modifying the waist size, replacing a zipper or button(s), shortening or lengthening hems, and taking in or letting out seams.

In other words, if a customer brings in a skirt off the rack that’s a bit loose in the waist, the charge to alter it would be taxable. Yet if a customer brings in a skirt she’s had that fit prior to losing weight, the charge to alter it would be exempt. If a customer wants to shorten recently purchased pants with tags still on them, the charge to alter them would be taxable. However, if a customer decides an old pair of favorite pants are too long, the charge to hem them would be exempt. Additional details are available at the California Department of Tax and Administration.

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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.