Taxability of Wisconsin Clarifies Tax Treatment of Eyeglasses, Contact Lenses, and Eye Care Accessories

Friday, May 11th, 2012


The Wisconsin Department of Revenue recently published a tax bulletin discussing the tax treatment of contact lenses, eyeglasses, and their accessories. Wis. Tax Bull. No. 175 (Dept. of Revenue Apr. 2012). Wisconsin exempts sales of prosthetic devices, and, because corrective eyeglasses, corrective sunglasses, and corrective contact lenses all satisfy the definition of prosthetic devices, sales of these items are exempt. Similarly, sales of corrective reading glasses are also exempt from tax, even if they are not sold under a prescription, because they nevertheless qualify as prosthetic devices. On the other hand, noncorrective eyeglasses and noncorrective sunglasses do not qualify as exempt prosthetic devices.

Accessories, such as neck cords, sunglass lenses meant to be worn over eyeglasses, eyeglass repair parts, cases for corrective eyeglasses, and nondisposable cleaning clothes purchased for use with corrective eyeglasses are also exempt from tax as accessories for prosthetic devices. However, these same items are taxable when purchased for use with noncorrective eyeglasses. Cases purchased for corrective contact lenses are also exempt from tax as prosthetic device accessories. However, contact lens solution, eyeglass cleaning solution, and disposable cleaning clothes are subject to tax as supplies; they do not qualify as prosthetic device accessories.

Contact lens travel kits for corrective contact lenses are subject to tax if the seller's price for the contact lens solution and other taxable items in the kit exceeds 50% of the overall selling price. But, if the taxable items in such a kit does not exceed 50% of the overall selling price, then the entire kit is exempt from tax. Kits purchased for use with noncorrective contact lenses are subject to tax.

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TTR has a website that companies subscribe to and use daily. This website provides a list of everything that can be bought or sold in the U.S. It provides simple answers to whether buying or selling these items is taxable (subject to a sales tax or other tax), and it provides all the legal authority to support these tax answers.

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