Sale of Tangible Goods by a Public Library is Taxable

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by Kevin Tomlinson, southwest/south central Idaho library consultant

 The Idaho State Tax Commission, in its Sales and Use Tax Administrative Rules (IDAPA), explains that tangible goods sold by a public library are subject to Idaho’s current rate of sales tax.

 A non-resident library card is a tangible good that the library sells (see Rule 094.05.a on page 85 of Sales and Use Tax Administrative Rules). Remember that  63-1311, Idaho Code, refers to services which would otherwise be funded by property tax revenues. Since a non-resident card is neither a service nor funded by property tax revenues, a public hearing is not required to set the sale price of a non-resident card. This sale price would be determined by the library’s board of trustees, usually as part of the library’s circulation policy. Moreover, Idaho Code  63-1311A does not require a hearing for the purpose of setting or changing the sale price of tangible goods. It is important for the library’s staff, trustees, and policies to avoid any reference to a ‘non-resident fee’. Remember: A non-resident library card is a tangible good that the library sells, subject to sales tax.

Many public libraries charge to replace a lost or damaged library card. Because Rule 094.05.a also considers a resident library card to be a tangle good that the library sells, public libraries are also required to charge sales tax when selling a replacement card to a resident of the library’s taxing district. If the library does not charge residents for replacement cards, then the library would, of course, collect no sales tax.

Libraries that charge for photocopies are selling a tangible good which, according to Administrative Rule 027.09.e (see page 23), is subject to sales tax.

Libraries that charge for printing to the library’s printer(s) are selling a tangible good, subject to sales tax. See Administrative Rule 027.09.e, on page 23.

When a library charges for receiving a FAX, Administrative Rule 053.02 (see page 48) considers this similar to a charge for a photocopy, which is a taxable sale of tangible personal property.

Sending a FAX, however, is a service, according to Administrative Rule 053.01 (see page 48), and so not subject to tax.

The sale of books and calendars by the library is subject to sales tax, according to Administrative Rule 094.05.a (see page 85).

The sale by a library of tangible personal property such as earbuds, flash drives, pens, pencils, and paper is subject to sales tax (see Administrative Rule 092.05 on page 85).

The sale of tangible personal property through a vending machine is a taxable transaction (see Administrative Rule 058.01 on page 54).

Raffle items and raffle tickets are not subject to sales tax, as the buyer is purchasing a chance to win, rather than tangible property.

For questions on collecting and submitting Idaho sales tax, please contact the Idaho State Tax Commission:

  • The State Tax Commission’s main office is located at 800 Park Boulevard, Plaza IV; Boise, ID  83712-7742.
  • Mailing address: P.O. Box 36, Boise, ID  83722-0410                  Web site:
  • Telephone numbers for Taxpayer Services: 208-334-7660 (local)                 800-972-7660 (toll-free)
  • FAX number:  208-334-7846             e-mail address:
  • Main office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday except for legal holidays.