The state of Texas charges a sales tax of 6.25 percent (as of 2010) for every dollar spent on many retail items, as well as some services. In addition, local governments, such as cities and counties, levy a local sales tax ranging from one-quarter to 2 percent on the dollar. Like many states, however, Texas exempts some items, such as food and medicine, from the sales tax. The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, the state's chief tax collection agency, publishes lists of items exempt from sales taxes.
The Texas comptroller published a list of taxable and nontaxable items commonly sold in grocery and convenience stores across Texas. Nontaxable items included many products on families' grocery lists, including fresh, canned and frozen bakery goods; milk, butter and other dairy products; condiments, such as mustard, salad dressings and ketchup; baking supplies; tea, coffee, bottled water and fruit juices; eggs; pasta; meat and fish; fruits and vegetables; and nutritional supplements, such as vitamins and herbal products.
Texas exempts prescription medications from the sales tax and since April 2000 has exempted many over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, as well. Exempt OCT drugs include allergy medications, cold remedies, eye drops, laxatives, sedatives and even nicotine gums and other smoking-cessation products. The exemption applies only to OTC medicines for human use. Medicines for animals, such as flea control medications, are exempt only when purchased with a prescription written by a veterinarian.
The state comptroller's list of taxable and non-taxable items in grocery and convenience stores included baby products among the items that are not subject to a sales tax. Tax-exempt baby products include canned and dry milk, packaged baby food, formula and electrolyte replacements. Diapers, however, are subject to the sales tax.
Texas does not levy a sales tax on newspapers. The state comptroller's office states that to be non-taxable, a newspaper must be printed on newsprint, have an average price of $1.50 or less over a period of 30 days, and contain general-interest news and advertising. In addition, the paper must be distributed at intervals of four weeks or less.
For most of the year, Texas collects a sales tax on the sale of book bags, notebooks, pencil boxes and other school supplies. However, the state's annual sales-tax holiday exempts school supplies. The sales-tax holiday occurs over a weekend every August, when many parents shop for school clothing and supplies for their children. During this weekend, Texas exempts a wide range of school supplies from the sales tax. The exemption includes some clothing and footwear, as well.