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Medical Exemptions: Is Idaho's Eyeglass Exemption a Designer Dud?

author photo of Annette Nellen

Idaho recently amended its list of sales tax exemptions to include "eyeglasses and eyeglass component parts" (HB 75, 3/24/15, effective 7/1/15).  There were already exemptions for drugs, hemodialysis supplies, braces and orthopedic appliances, dental prostheses and other medical related items. While eyeglasses seem to fit the list, there is a significant difference between eyeglasses and most medical supplies and devices. Eyeglasses are also a designer item where the cost can be quite high due to the choice of frame. Also, for most medical items, the doctor prescribes the item and the patient has no choice of style or manufacturer. In contrast, patients have a lot of choice in eyeglass frame.

So, the exemption helps any one in need of corrective lenses, but provides a bonus to individuals who want the $300 (or higher) frame rather than a $40 frame. This could be alleviated by only providing the sales tax exemption for the glass and then only the first $50 of the cost of the frame. It would not be difficult to compute. It also sends the message to consumers that the exemption is only for the medical aspect of the purchase, not the designer element of it.

What do you think?

Other recent “Sales Tax Policy - Tales & Trends” posts by Annette Nellen, CPA, ESQ:

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