A lot of you have asked why certain things are taxed in New Jersey and why certain things are not.

The “why” is not always easy to ascertain.

Sometimes, like in the case of plastic products, the intent is to prompt people to make more environmentally friendly choices.

In general, New Jersey assesses a 6.625% sales tax on sales of most tangible personal property, specified digital products, and certain services unless specifically exempt under New Jersey law.

Are there exemptions to New Jersey’s sales tax?

Yes.

Most food and drink items purchased in a food store are not subject to sales tax when sold to individual consumers.  This can change if certain items are combined into a prepared food dish or if the law considers the item to be a "candy."

Also clothing, drugs, disposable paper products (household use only), durable medical equipment and manufacturing/processing machinery and equipment are also generally exempt from sales tax, but there could be exceptions.

New Jersey puts out an itemized list for retailers that spells out what is, and what is not, taxed.

WPG Talk Radio 95.5 FM logo
Get our free mobile app

Perhaps because this is New Jersey, there are some bizarre and seemingly contradictory listings.

New Jersey taxes (just about) everything.  Keep scrolling to see how the state imposes taxes on some things just doesn't seem to make sense.

Bad Skin?

Acne creams and lotions are tax-exempt.

Skin cleansers and soaps are taxed.

Astringents and rubbing alcohol are exempt.


Have a baby?

Diapers and wipes are exempt.

Baby lotion is taxable.

Petroleum jelly is exempt.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
loading...

Taking a bath?

Bath beads, oils, and sachets are taxed.

Your bathing cap is tax exempt.


Refreshing drink?

Unsweetened iced tea is tax-exempt.

Sweetened tea is taxed.

Same for lemonade and almost all beverages sold in stores.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
loading...

Marijuana

Recreational weed is taxed.

Medical weed is not.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
loading...

Light a candle?

Your candle is taxed.

The lighter you use to light it, and butane gas, is tax-exempt.


Chips?

Chocolate chips are taxed because they are considered candy.

Potato chips are not because they are considered food. (Chocolate-covered potato chips, however, are considered candy and are taxed.)

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
loading...

Nearsighted?

Contact lenses are tax-exempt in New Jersey.

Contact lens cleaners and solutions are subject to taxation.


Throwing a party?

Paper plates and paper cups are tax-exempt.

Red Solo cups and plastic dinnerware are taxed.

Ice is tax-exempt.

The ice bucket you put it in is taxed.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
loading...

Cut yourself?

Bandages are taxed.

Antibiotic creams are exempt.


Giving a gift?

A gift certificate is tax-exempt to purchase.

The box you put it in, the card, wrapping paper and bows are all taxed.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
loading...

Bitten by a mosquito?

Insect bite, itch and rash relievers are tax-exempt.

Mosquito repellent is taxed.


The same, but different.

Marshmallows are taxed in New Jersey.

Marshmallow Fluff is tax-exempt.

Canva/Amazon.com/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Amazon.com/Townsquare Media illustration
loading...

Pumpkins?

If you carve it and display it, pumpkins are taxed.

If you eat it, it’s tax-exempt.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
loading...

Day at the shore?

If you get burned, sunburn relief products are not taxed.

However, sunscreen is taxed by New Jersey.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
loading...

Pearly Whites

Your toothbrush and toothpaste will be taxed.

If you have a toothache, pain relievers are tax-exempt.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
loading...

Starchy

Laundry starch is taxed.

Cornstarch is not.


Sports

If you want to go see a sporting event, you will be taxed.

If you want to play a sport, you won’t be charged tax.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
loading...

And….finally……you don’t say?

Condiments (catsup, mustard, mayo) are taxed.

Condoms are not.

2023 Seaside Heights Polar Bear Plunge

Photos from the 2023 Seaside Heights Polar Bear Plunge, which raised $2.5 million for the Special Olympics New Jersey.

More From WPG Talk Radio 95.5 FM