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Medicine and Medical Equipment

The Maryland sales and use tax applies to the sale of all medical supplies and medical equipment except those that the legislature has specifically exempted from tax. Regardless of whether medical insurance will cover the cost of a product, whether the item is deductible for federal income tax purposes, or whether certain supplies are prescribed by a doctor, those products and supplies are taxable unless specifically exempted.

The following items are specifically exempted from the sales and use tax.


The tax does not apply to a sale of medicine. The term "medicine" means a preparation or substance intended to cure, mitigate, treat or prevent illnesses. Medicine includes prescription and non-prescription drugs, patent medicines, and oxygen sold for medical purposes.

For sales and use tax purposes, the following items are not included under the definition of medicine and are taxable: cosmetics, dentifrices, shaving and hair care products, soaps, deodorants, toothpastes, suntan lotions, and skin care creams or cleansers.

However, the following hygiene aids are exempt from the sales and use tax:

  • Baby oil
  • Baby powder
  • Sanitary napkins
  • Tampons

Disposable medical supplies

The sales and use tax does not apply to the sale of disposable medical supplies. Disposable supplies are articles consumed in a single use to cure, mitigate, treat, prevent, or diagnose illnesses.

Exempt items include: adhesive tape; bandages; gauze and gauze pads; antiseptics, disposable gloves; lubricating jelly; colostomy supplies, absorbent pads; incontinent pants, diapers and other incontinent supplies for adults; dressing supplies; spray bandages; disposable syringes; condoms, and glucose monitoring strips.

Skin care creams or cleansers are not considered tax exempt medical supplies.

Sales of medical supplies to or by physicians or hospitals

The tax does not apply to a sale of medical supplies to or by physicians or hospitals. Medical supplies means an article used to cure, mitigate, treat, prevent, or diagnose illness. Medical supplies do not include surgical supplies or medical or surgical equipment.

Itemized physical aids

The tax does not apply to the sale of the following products itemized in the statute:

  • A hemodialysis drug or device sold by a licensed pharmacist or by a person who holds a state permit for hemodialysis distribution directly to a hemodialysis patient requiring regular home treatment.
  • Personal property manufactured or adapted to compensate for blindness, including braille slates and paper, items with braille markings and specialized canes.
  • A decoder for captioned television programs for use by a hearing-impaired individual.
  • A telecommunications device that is adapted specifically for hearing-impaired individuals and is one of the following:
    • A device that changes digital codes into tones for transmission through telephone lines.
    • A flashing signal device.
    • A telebraille machine.
  • An artificial eye or limb or a hearing device.
  • A colostomy or ileostomy appliance.
  • Corrective eyeglasses.
  • An orthopedic or surgical appliance prescribed by a physician that is designed to be worn by the user.
  • A battery for an artificial hearing device or larynx, transcutaneous nerve stimulator, or electrically powered wheelchair.
  • A replacement cord for an artificial hearing device.
  • Crutches, including quad canes and walkers, but not standard canes.
  • A wheelchair, including a power scooter specifically designed to enable invalids to move about, and replacement parts for wheelchairs and scooters.
  • A hospital bed, as well as mattresses and side rails designed for a hospital bed.
  • An oxygen tent.
  • Personal property installed in a motor vehicle to provide access for a handicapped individual or permit a handicapped individual to operate the vehicle, including portable wheelchair ramps.
  • A wig or hairpiece needed as a result of a documented medical or surgical treatment.

Medical equipment for the home or on the person

The sales and use tax does not apply to medical equipment that meets all of the following conditions:

  • Can withstand repeated use.
  • Is used exclusively to serve a medical purpose.
  • Is not useful to a person in the absence of illness or injury.
  • Is for use in the home or on the individual's person.

"For the use in the home" includes a nursing home, but only to the extent that the equipment remains in the room in which the patient sleeps and is used regularly and exclusively by the patient(s) in that room.

"For the use in the home or on the individual's person" does not include devices used or placed on a person for diagnostic purposes. These devices include, without limitation, blood pressure devices, thermometers, scales of any type, and devices used to obtain or monitor pulse, respiration, or heart rate.

Exempt medical equipment includes, but is not limited to, the following items used in the home or on the person:

  • Overbed table.
  • Wheelchair tray.
  • Pressure or pressure sore relief products, such as a flotation pad.
  • Bed wedges, bath and toilet safety products, such as a commode chair, toilet safety frame, bath bench and a bath lift.
  • Bed pan.
  • Respiratory equipment, including ventilators and suction and aerosol equipment.
  • Trapeze bar.
  • Traction equipment.
  • Patient lifts.
  • Geriatric chair.
  • Continuous passive motion device.
  • Products used for intravenous administration.
  • Apnea monitors.
  • Infant breathing monitors.
  • Blood glucose monitors.
  • Thermaphores.
  • Heating pads.
  • Paraffin bath and wax.
  • Cervical pillows.
  • Medical corsets,
  • Elastic bandages.
  • All types of braces.
  • Casts.
  • Mastectomy bras.
  • Forms.

The following items are not exempt from the sales and use tax:

  • Equipment used for general health purposes, such as air conditioners, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and massagers.
  • Equipment used in examination, treatment, operating, delivery, and therapy rooms.
  • Adjustable beds that are not hospital beds.
  • Bedside cabinets.
  • Receptacles for medical waste.
  • Lift chairs.

Stairlifts, wheelchair lifts, prefabricated wheelchair ramps, grab bars, when installed for their intended purpose, become a component of the real property to which they are attached and therefore are not exempt medical equipment. If you sell or install any of these items, you must pay sales and use tax on your purchase from your supplier. If you sell any of these items but do not install them, you must collect the tax on your retail selling price.

See Sales and Use Tax Bulletin 01-1: Taxability of Medical Equipment

Links for Special Situations
Business Tax Types
Sales and Use Tax
Tax Information
Special Situations
  Tire Recycling Fee
  Flea Markets
  Purchases for Resale
  Sales of Food
  Out of State Purchases
  Modular Buildings
  Transient Vendors
  Medicine and Medical Equipment
  Janitorial Services
  Security Services
  Alcohol Sales Tax
  Bulk Sales Tax
  Mobile Homes
  Tax Included Sales
  Sales By Parent Teacher Organizations and Other Organizations
  Fabrication and Labor
  Bulk Vending Machine Sales
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