Is Your Fabric Taxed?

Happy Monday, everyone! Today I have a question: are fabric purchases taxed where you live? I’m curious what the laws are in your state, province or country!

Here in British Columbia, Canada, fabrics have a 12% sales tax. Ouch! Same with notions, patterns – basically everything you buy at the fabric store. Whatever you buy ends up costing twelve percent more! That can really add up, especially if you buy fabric often. Expensive fabrics get even more pricey when the final total is calculated!

On the other hand, this does encourage buying fabric online, buying vintage fabric through Etsy, and fabric-shopping while on vacation in tax-free states. (Like we need any more encouragement to buy fabric on vacation!)
We’re about to have an election here, and Mr Sewaholic and I were discussing what issues we cared about, which is what made me think about tax on fabric.

Here, bread and eggs and milk aren’t taxed, as they’re considered essentials, but cookies and packaged foods are taxed. Shouldn’t it be the same with fabric? Fabric is tax-free, but clothing is taxable? I’d vote to have the taxes removed from fabric, for sure!
When I was in Boston over the summer, I bought fabric and was thrilled to see no tax on my receipt. You guys are lucky! I can’t remember if there was tax when I bought fabric in Hawaii.

One of the coolest parts of reading the comments on my bike post, was seeing how biking is different around the world. Some of you live in amazingly bike-friendly cities, some of you would fear for your life if you started bike commuting!
So now I’m wondering what it’s like around the world. Is fabric taxed where you live? What percent do you have to pay? If you’ve moved recently, did you notice whether the taxes on fabric changed from place to place? If fabric was suddenly tax-free, would that encourage you to buy more? I’m curious what it’s like for you?

Do you pay tax on fabric? What percent? And, do you even think about tax when you fabric-shop?

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98 Responses to Is Your Fabric Taxed?

  1. lap April 11, 2011 at 6:06 am #

    In Minnesota, we’re still lucky to have no tax on clothing, or on fabric purchased to make clothing. Sometimes that means clarifying what you’re making at the cutting board!

  2. molly April 11, 2011 at 6:08 am #

    We have a general sale’s tax in South Dakota that covers pretty much everything and anything at 6%, but that’s because the state really depends on tourism in the summer months what with Mt. Rushmore and Sturgis Bike Rally. To balance it out we don’t have an income tax. I don’t think I’d notice if they removed the fabric tax just because I’ve lived with it all my life, the tax covers practically everything not just fabric and 6% isn’t so bad as 12%.

  3. Lisette April 11, 2011 at 6:19 am #

    Well, here in the states it is obviously different in every state. For example, New Hampshire has no tax on anything! Where I live, Rhode Island, we have a 7% sales tax, but it doesn’t apply to “necessities”. So apparel fabric isn’t taxed but all other fabric is, like quilter’s cottons. Weird, huh? I do not live in a bike-friendly town, sadly, but that isn’t going to stop me from trying to ride my bike to work this summer!

  4. nique April 11, 2011 at 6:21 am #

    I live in FL
    There is a state and county tax on fabric. It only totals up to 7% though.

    Things like eggs and sugar aren’t taxed here either, but pre-made foods are.

  5. Misty April 11, 2011 at 6:26 am #

    We have state sales tax here in Georgia that covers basically anything you purchase, except groceries. However, I was amazed when I moved here to find that the city of Atlanta charges an additional tax on top of the state tax (not so amazing), and groceries are included (never seen that before!). I just tried looking up our current tax rate and have no idea what it is, because apparently the county I live in also charges its own tax on top of the Georgia state tax and the Atlanta municipal tax. It comes out to something like 7.5% if I remember correctly. I honestly don’t pay that much attention because it’s just a part of life here in the states. I’m always pleasantly surprised when I end up in Oregon and then remember that there’s no sales tax! Oh yeah, we also have state income tax as well as federal income tax here.

    Of the states I’ve lived in, Ohio was the worst for squeezing money out of you in every way possible. Compare the list below:

    Washington – sales tax, federal income tax
    Ohio – sales tax, federal & state income tax, school district income tax (some SDs), city income tax (some cities)
    California – sales tax, federal & state income tax
    Georgia – sales tax, federal & state income tax

    Although we’ll see how Georgia compares in the end, since I’ve only been here about 9 months so I may not have seen everything yet!

  6. Helena April 11, 2011 at 6:27 am #

    Everything is taxed here (Sweden), so fabric falls under that as well. I don’t know with what percentage though, probably 25% (the general VAT). However on all price tags the VAT is included so what you see is what you pay, no nasty surprises.

  7. Sue April 11, 2011 at 6:27 am #

    20% [ouch] here in the uk. cheaper to buy from the usa even with postage added!

  8. G April 11, 2011 at 6:29 am #

    Germany: as on most things, 19% tax on fabric.

  9. Patty April 11, 2011 at 6:35 am #

    Like Laura (LAP) said, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, we aren’t charged sales tax on items that are used to make clothing – fabric, zippers, buttons, thread… anything that ends up being worn. Anything used on the way, though, is taxed – so patterns are taxed because you don’t wear them.

    Also, this pertains to fabric for clothing only – so upholstery and quilting fabrics are charged tax. If you remember at the checkout, you can let them know that you’re planning on making clothing with the fabric and and they will not charge you tax.

    I work in a fabric shop that focuses on garment making, but sells what a lot of people consider ‘quilting cotton.’ Generally, I do not charge tax unless I know for certain they are working on a quilt or something like that.

    Our tax rate is something like 7.75% – part of that is a state tax, party is county, part is the city and part is a special tax that has to do with transit.

    And… with the economy the way it is, there’s a lot of talk about taxing clothing. So we’ll see how long we get away with this!

  10. Anna April 11, 2011 at 6:36 am #

    It’s the same here in Austria as it is in Sweden: we have a 20% VAT on everything (some things like all groceries, books, newspapers etc. have a 10% VAT) but it’s always already included. Speaking of fabric, I guess it runs with 20% VAT.

  11. Anna April 11, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    @Sue: It never even occured to me that it could actually be cheaper to order from the US … might have to try it, thank you!

  12. Laurie April 11, 2011 at 6:43 am #

    I live in Washington State and our tax is 8.6%. We pay it on everything, except food. The tax changes depending on what count you are in. The tax in Seattle is nearly 10%. We don’t have an income tax though. Oregon does not have a sales tax, so many sewers from here travel down there to buy fabric and machines. There is a big store in Portland that most Pacific Northwesterners love – link below. They have big sales during the year and charter buses take groups down there. Also Pati Palmer holds her workshops there, which is another attraction.

  13. Michelle M. April 11, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    Here in California we have a nearly 10% sales tax, which can vary by as much as .25% depending on whether or not your city adds to it for its own revenue. I don’t like it but I’m so used to it that it doesn’t really bother me on most purchases.

  14. S√∏lvi April 11, 2011 at 6:48 am #

    As Helena stated earlier, in Sweden there is a general VAT on most everything, I just checked an old receipt from the fabric store, and it seems to be 20% VAT on fabric. and the same goes for Norway. I think perhaps in Norway the VAT is a 22%, but I can be wrong. In both Sweden and Norway there is VAT on everything, so I don´t think much about it. We have different taxes for importing fabric and finished clothing though, so if I buy fabric internationally I don´t pay extra taxes, but I do if it is finished garments.

  15. karen April 11, 2011 at 6:54 am #

    I live in Montana so no sales tax on anything! When we lived in New York they had a pretty high sales tax, 9%, but if you bought fabric to make clothing it was taxed at like 4% but fabric for home dec, quilting, or crafting was the full 9%. So every time you got fabric cut they asked you what you were making so they could tax you appropriately. It took me a couple of years to figure it out, I thought every single cutting lady was just so nice to want to know what I was making. Most of them really are that nice but after a while I got suspicious that every single lady at every store every time I bought fabric asked the same question for 2 years straight… oh well I guess that means I believe that people are genuinely good and nice, right?

  16. claire April 11, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    hi tasia, here in omaha, nebraska, fabric is taxed the same way as clothing. 5.5% state plus 1.5% local for a total of 7%. i don’t mind taxes at all, but wow… 12% from your city would make me think twice before going on a shopping rampage!

    here in nebraska (not sure about other states), for the annual tax filings, consumers are also required to pay use taxes on items they purchased over the internet, in aggregate. i don’t think encountered this tax last year, so it might be a new thing for my state to recoup lost revenue.

  17. claire April 11, 2011 at 7:05 am #

    also~ when i lived in china, there were no sales taxes on any common goods (excluding big-ticket items like autos and real estate). if only i knew how to sew back then! the silks i’ve seen on trips to the south, are sooooooooo gorgeous!!

  18. Stacy April 11, 2011 at 7:11 am #

    I live in Texas, where there is 8.25% tax on fabric, notions, craft supplies and the like. I know that when we lived in Missouri there was a tax on fabric, as there is in Wyoming and Colorado too. I don’t know the tax rates in those states any more, but if I remember correctly it was based on city sales tax a lot of the time.

  19. Samina April 11, 2011 at 7:14 am #

    I’m in Florida, too. The state sales tax here is 6% & covers just about everything except food. Most of our counties have a 1/2 – 1% surtax on top of that, so we pay sales tax on fabric & clothing. Hmm, maybe it’s time convince our legistlature that fabric is as essential as food!

  20. Mary April 11, 2011 at 7:15 am #

    Hi Tasia,
    Oregon does not have sales tax on anything, but we have a whopping state income tax that makes up for that (they get you either way). We do have some wonderful fabric stores, such as the Fabric Depot (Pati Palmer is affiliated with them), which they do have an online store, but it doesn’t carry all the fabrics you can find in the store. We also have The Mill End and Pendleton for nice woolens. Definitely worth a weekend trip South to build up the stash!

  21. Kimberly April 11, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    Here in Texas, the state sales tax is a maximum of 8.25% with some of that going to the city and county (some cities and counties are less than the max, but that is rare and usually in unicorporated areas). The only thing that isn’t taxed are essential food items and some services (like medical services). There are extra taxes on real estate and vehicles. There are tax-free days during the year for school supplies and clothing and items that you can justify as needed for education, though lately it has been a single day before school starts in August, and you can’t use it for fabric (I don’t know if you can if you are buying it for a fashion or home ec course). We don’t have a state income tax.

  22. Kathy April 11, 2011 at 7:22 am #

    I live in the Chicagoland area and the tax is around 10%. It can be a little higher, I think 10.25%, if you live in the city limits. This includes most purchases, except for food, which has a lower tax. Even with food, if it is candy or soda or some other things, the tax is 10.25%. I travel to a neighboring county to buy my fabric and the tax there is 7.25%. In fact, I make almost all my purchases in a neighboring county. I’m traveling to Minnesota this summer, and am excited to learn that there is no tax on fabric there. I will have to seek out all fabric stores!!

  23. patty the snugbug April 11, 2011 at 7:26 am #


    Kathy! I can make suggestions if you’re coming to Mpls/St. Paul – send me an email!

  24. daiyami April 11, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    Well, thanks, Tasia! I’m in Oregon (no sales tax, as above—and yes, Fabric Depot is pretty cool and Portland has quite a lot of fabric shops)—but now I have another excuse to build up my stash while I am here, as I expect to be moving in the next couple of years. I hadn’t thought of the tax part. Yay, more reasons to buy fabric! :-)

    Massachusetts does not tax clothing or food as essentials, so I guess fabric falls under clothing. (Virginia actually taxes food, which seems evil to me.) I think I paid tax on fabric in Hawaii, but I don’t remember.

  25. Lauren April 11, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    i live in nashville (er, tennessee) and we have a sales tax on *everything*, including fabric – 9.25%! kind of bummerville, but i’m so used to it that i get a happy register-shock when i buy stuff in other states :)

    anyway, i don’t mind paying a high sales tax because the trade-off is that we don’t have a state income tax – which is AWESOME. we make most of our money off our tourists, in the form of sales & hotel taxes :) hehe

  26. sallyann April 11, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    A 6% tax here in Florida on everything. While I do shop online due to the lack of fabric stores in the area, I find that some sites charge close to 20% of the total sale for shipping. Its something to watch and measure into the cost. Loved living in the Boston area, so many options, and no sales tax for fabrics intended for clothing.

  27. Sewing Princess April 11, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    @G: In Italy it’s 20% like most goods. But taxes are hidden over here, so the price you see on the tag is the final price.
    An interesting question: would prices increase if taxation was lower or non-existent on those goods? Dan Ariely is an interesting reading on that…

  28. Caroline April 11, 2011 at 8:04 am #

    I should set up a fabric-buying service since I live in Oregon, where not only can I get fabric without sales tax, but I can often get it close to the wholesale price! Thank God for Mill End ( ), Fabric Depot ( ), and Rose City Textiles ( ), as well as the little guys like Bolt ( ). And of course we have Joann, too (great for cheap notions). Our population grew nearly 12% in the 2000s, and it’s probably all sewists. ;)

  29. Debbie April 11, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    In Mississippi we pay 7% sales tax on everything except services like barbers, beauty parlors, and newspapers. Then the working people pay a state income tax. No retirement income is taxed so that leads to working people with a $15,000 income paying tax, while a retiree with $200,000 income is not taxed.

    But, taxes are the price we pay for democracy–and I, for one, am convinced that it is worth it, even with all the waste and turmoil.

  30. Irene April 11, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    Here in the Netherlands, almost everything is 19%, incluiding fabric and notions.

    I always understood that basic stuff like groceries are 6%, but I was checking the tax website, just to be sure. Apparently services like “repairing clothes, shoes and bicycles” and “services in hairdressing” are also seen as basic (really!?) so they’re low taxed. Who knew!

  31. Cathy April 11, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    In Australia (my home), at least in NSW there is a 10% tax on almost everything you buy, including fabric. Fortunately it is included in the price tag, so there are no surprises when you get to the register.

    In North Carolina (where I live right now) I think sales tax is between 6 and 7%, which is added to the price of fabrics bought in stores or online within the state. For fabric bought online, mostly you don’t pay sales tax, but by law you should declare it on your tax return so that the state can extract the sales tax from you.

  32. T. Sedai April 11, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    Yes, in United States (at least, west coast and midwest states I have lived in/visited) most things are taxed (not like basic food, but other than that….), usually around 5-10%. The sales tax is on top of state and federal income taxes (and then, if you get returns on your state taxes you have to report it as additional income so the federal people can tax it the following year. Madness). Also, you have to report anything you DIDN’T pay state taxes on, and pay them as well when reporting. So buying fabric on vacation is like a double tax whammy – you are paying 2 state sales taxes (unless you buy in a state with no sales tax, like Oregon… lucky lucky people. Now there is a place to go on a fabric buying rampage…). Buying online isn’t as bad, because you either pay the tax up front and don’t have to report it, or you pay the tax at the end of the year during tax time. But then you have to pay shipping costs, but I don’t mind shipping, I just think of it as “the gas tax,” however, free shipping always makes my day. But yeah, it never occurred to me that fabric shouldn’t be taxed… I suppose because there is so much you can do with it that isn’t essential, and so many types of clothes that aren’t essential (I mean, we don’t need ball gowns or costumes, but they are fun to make!), and I guess to me the act of sewing is like recreation, so paying the taxes never really bothered me. Now, as to the amount of the tax… that definitely could go a bit lower. It would be cool if fabric taxes were half of normal taxes, that way it is till taxed, but not as high on something that could be used for making clothes.

  33. ellen April 11, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    I’m in Georgia, like Misty, and yes, there is sales tax on fabric. BTW, if she’s in the city of Atlanta, her tax is 8%. All other areas of Fulton County (where Atlanta mostly is), the tax is 7%. Other counties in Georgia may just pay 6%, as the Georgia sales tax is on a county by county basis. Confusing? Yes.

    Also, like Cathy says, if you buy fabric online, you have to pay sales tax if the store is in your state. And darn it, is in Georgia!

  34. Valerie S. April 11, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    I live in Oregon so, as above, no sales tax. They hit us pretty hard on the property and income taxes though (we have one of the highest income tax rates in the USA). I’m not a huge fan of fabric depot — they seem awfully expensive to me. I prefer to go to the Mill Ends store. The facility is a little dumpier, but prices are better.

  35. JillyB April 11, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    Here in Quebec it is 13.5% sales tax (though it is actually more because we pay Quebec sales tax on the Federal sales tax!). I don’t think it would hurt as much if the tax were included in the price, like in Europe. Then there wouldn’t be a surprise at the cash. I definitely think about tax when I am buying anything. Tasia, as a fellow Canadian resident, I would love to hear about your experiences buying fabric online from the States. Do you have problems with duty/things getting held up at the border? What are your favourite places to buy?

  36. Lisa April 11, 2011 at 8:29 am #


    I live in Holland, and we have a 19% tax on fabric. It’s calculated into the price, so you’re not really aware of it everytime you buy something. It’s still a lot though!

  37. gabriela April 11, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    @Helena: It’s the same case for Chile, we have a general tax on everything we purchase, 19%, but is included in the price, as in Sweden. I don’t mind paying it, the state need resources to work, and to be honest at this point on my life I don’t really need more fabric or clothes, I buy them just for placer.

  38. alice April 11, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    i’m also in vancouver. I only started buying fabric before a new harmonized tax came in (lumping together our provincial and federal tax) – tasia, do you remember if you paid pst and gst previously on fabric/notions? somehow i think one of those was exempt from gst.

    I think I sometimes think about the tax to be added, but i typically get register shock anyway – mainly because i’m not too good about doing decimal math in my head (1.7 x $8.98 + 2 x $11.98, etc).

    i’m not too bothered about taxes – I agree with Debbie it’s the price we pay for democracy. I always reckon that i won the lottery just by being born in Canada. Of course it’s not perfect here, but I make sure I always stay aware of all of the wonderful ways that I have benefited from our public services and not take them for granted.

  39. alice April 11, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    gah – i only started buying fabric very shortly before the new harmonized tax came in.

  40. CGCouture April 11, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    Yes, my fabric purchases, along with everything else are taxed. Different cities have different tax rates, but they are generally fairly close to each other at around 6-8%.

  41. msmodiste April 11, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    Hmm. This is tricky. I have many thoughts about this, which probably could benefit from a little more research!

    I will say, that I think if fabric was tax-free, clothing should be too. I don’t think those who can’t sew should be punished, the tax rate is determind by the end product. (i.e. healthy food = necessity clothing, not healthy food = ingredients for making something, if that makes sense?). I’m not sure what the “junk food” equivalent is in clothing… non-necessity clothing would be difficult for the government to define, I think!

    I have one more thought, and it’s open to criticism because I admit that I don’t know enough about how tax dollars are distributed. (And I’m not trying to open a big can of worms – this is only my opinion.) I notice that countries that swing to the more socialist end of the spectrum tend to have more sales tax, whereas countries that don’t, don’t. Personally, I don’t love paying sales tax on everything… but I do love being in a country with things like universal health care, paid maternity/parental leave, etc. So, IF sales tax on things like fabric allows me to continue to live in a country where I can go to the doctor and then not have to worry about being able to afford groceries… then I’m okay with that.

  42. Robyn April 11, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    In Ontario we pay whatever our HST (combine tax) is…I should know, I think it’s 13 or 15%.
    I order most of my fabric from the US and have never been charged tax or duty, even if I did it would still be much cheaper.
    For example, a specific line of fabric that I buy often costs between $12.99 and $16.99 a yard plus tax in Canada, I buy it online from the US for $8.99 a yard, I bought 16 yards and was charged $12 for shipping. On top of that, I often find it very difficult to source specific fabrics in Canada.

  43. Alessa April 11, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    Germany as well, we have 19% tax on fabric and pretty much anything “nonessential”. Food is 7% and interestingly enough, books are, too. :)

  44. Laura April 11, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    We pay 8.1% tax here in Las Vegas. We’ve only lived here for a year now, and it is hard to get used to- since there was no sales tax in Oregon. I try to buy most of my fabric online anyway, as there are not any good fabric stores around here. It still hurts every time I run to JoAnn’s for interfacing or a last minute piece of fabric, though.

  45. Ruth April 11, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    Ontario….13%. Can’t really complain since it used to be 15%.
    @ROBYN….which online stores do you buy your fabric from? I’m not really all too familiar with the rules on duties & taxes….I ordered a few notions a couple years back and was charged $12 duty for $30 worth.

  46. Catherine April 11, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    9.75% in my county in Southern California. I would definitely buy more of everything if I didn’t basically have 10% added to every receipt!

  47. Lizzy April 11, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    Hi! in Mexico it is taxed, the good thing i (or bad) is that all showed prices INCLUDE the tax so there is no surprise when I pay to realize it is more, ah, ant the tax is 16% ……….yes 16% , a lot right?????

    I remeber the first time I pay something in USA I didn’t know the prices showed are not taxes included…I prefer to know how much I will pay and not to calculate it. =)

  48. Amanda April 11, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    Here in France, we have a general 19.6% tax on everything, but, like someone else said, it’s included in the price, so adding up your total is easier…

  49. Venus de Hilo April 11, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    Yes, you paid “general excise tax” of 4.166% on the fabric you purchased in Hawaii. We also have “use tax” at the same rate for items imported into the state. So I paid use tax on the fabric I purchased in Oregon and Maine while on vacation last year. But I get to deduct the Maine state sales tax from my total.

  50. Sewingdina April 11, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    20% VAT on all business sales in the UK. Here is the wikipedia link to the sales taxes in all other countries except the US:

    I would support your policy for zero tax on fabrics and notions (but we may be a little biased!)

  51. Wendy April 11, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    I live in Vancouver and I purchase online. I find that some places like ships for free if it’s over $35. I’ve set up a US address just over the border and have my fabrics shipped there. I’m 20 minutes from the border so it’s worth it to me to do that. I do this with other items I buy too. I have never paid duty or taxes on anything I’ve brought back. The most I’ve brought back at one time was about $200 but since i’m so close I can do it once a week if I chose to. I save a lot by shopping this way.

  52. Ashlee April 11, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    Manitoba, Canada – I’m lucky enough that I live an hour away from the US border, so I can drive down to Minnesota or North Dakota and pay less in taxes and cheaper prices for fabric – although right now our dollar is doing exceptionally well so it almost balances out. I also sometimes order from or and have it shipped to a postal service at the border. Shipping can be free within the US from a lot of places, and for $5 dollars I can have it shipped to the postal service. Then I take a little hour long road trip, pick up my fabric across the border, and come home. I’m allowed $50.00 in duty free goods if I’m traveling for less than 24 hours, so as long as I keep my purchases below that, it’s well worth it! Otherwise… I pay 12% in Manitoba. Ouch!

  53. K April 11, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    Hey guys.
    I live in Vermont- state sales tax is 6% on everything except food/gas/clothing purchases under $200. This also changes by city. Williston (next town over) has a lot of big box stores and ups the total tax to 8% which pays for their nicely kept roads and brand new fire station, haha. The fabric I go to is in South Burlington and tax is a modest 7%. I’m so used to it that I don’t even think about it.

  54. Ashlee April 11, 2011 at 11:03 am #


    Funny, I was just typing the same thing! Lucky you to be TWENTY minutes away, that’s fantastic!

  55. Laurie Brown April 11, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    In both Idaho and Washington, fabric and clothing are taxed at the same rate as anything else. In Idaho, *everything* is taxed at 6%; in Washington, it’s 8% but food (nonprepared food) is not taxed.

  56. Lindsay T April 11, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    Most fabric stores in NYC’s Garment District do not charge sales tax, making them even more of a bargain than they already are. I think you need to plan a visit!

  57. Ann April 11, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    in Denmark we pay VAT on EVERYTHING!!!!! Including worklabour. Our VAT starts at – are you ready for this??? I’m telling you – you better sit down and grap on to your bloomers. Where was I??? Oh yeah – the starting percentage of Danish VAT is a wooping 25 %!!! Yep – twentyfive!!!! On EVERY thing – no that’s a lie – on cars it’s a 125% yes – onehundredtwentyfive percent.
    But but but if I buy thing in Europe over the internet and pay the VAT as it is in THAT country I won’t get charged extra. I buy a lot of stuff over the net…

  58. Cynthia April 11, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    In France we pay 19.6% on about everything, the tax is included but that also mean that when taxes go down, merchants don’t change their prices :/

    Anyways I found a great store where I buy everything at 1 or 2 ‚Ǩ per meter so I don’t worry about taxes ;)

  59. Aminat April 11, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    Wow that’s a lot of …I live in Calgary Alberta and we only pay 5% GST on almost everything, so it’s 5% on fabric as well

  60. Marie-Christine April 11, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    19% sales tax in France.. on everything! In fact, even on a dressmaker’s services, should you be able to afford one.

  61. Shanna April 11, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    I’m in southern California and in Orange County we pay 8.75% sales tax on pretty much everything including fabric. I do like to buy fabric online from people in different states so that I don’t have to pay sales tax. The state of California however expects you to declare any internet purchases when you file your state taxes so that you can pay state sales tax at that time. Yeah right! I don’t know anyone who does this.

  62. Val April 11, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    I’m in Iowa. 7% sales tax here and yep – everything but food is taxable here.

  63. Judy April 11, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    In Greece we pay 23% purchase tax (VAT) on just about everything.

  64. Rebecca April 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    Here in Virginia all items purchased are taxed at 5% and 4% goes to the state and the other 1% goes to the locality. However, there is a 2.5% tax on groceries, whereas many states don’t tax basic food items. The rate you pay for tax makes VA seem like a bargin though! :]

  65. Corinne April 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    I live in Western Pa. 7 % in our county , but we also notice that our prices, in general, for fabric is 20-30 % more than in the Eastern part of the state. We are not happy about this and more and more are buying online.

  66. claire April 11, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    wow so weird, just clicked on the wiki link re: VATs. i never knew that i paid any taxes while living in china – they are all part of the sticker price (or haggled down price if you’re good @ that). ignorance is bliss…haha!

  67. Valerie April 11, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    Sorry to post again, but I’m finding this thread just fascinating. I thought I’d clarify something though:

    Sales taxes are taxes that are generally imposed on the end user of a tangible product. So, if someone buys stuff at wholesale and lives in a jurisdiction that imposes a sales tax, they usually can get out of paying the tax by presenting their vendor with a resale exemption certificate.

    Use tax are taxes that people who live in sales tax jurisdictions are supposed to pay when they use something that hasn’t already had tax paid on it. So, if someone in New Hampshire, Oregon, Montana, Alaska, or Delaware buys something and ships it to someone in say, New York or another sales tax jurisdiction the recipient is supposed to pay use tax on it. Many states would also like their residents to pay use tax on their online sales. Sometimes states will make vendors who have a taxable presence in their jurisdiction collect the use tax because (let’s be honest) people are bad about reporting use tax. The sales and use taxes are intended to complement each other so that folks can’t get out of their sales tax by buying stuff in another jurisdiction.

    It’s also interesting because when you layer local taxes on top of it, you can have a situation like in Anchorage, AK or Ashland, OR where there is a local sales tax but no state level sales tax.

    I’d totally take a sales tax over our current income tax rate and relatively high property tax rate.

  68. Tegan April 11, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    As Cathy mentioned here in Australia (all over, not just NSW) there is a 10% tax (GST – Goods and Services Tax) on pretty much everything – fabric included. But since this tax is included in the cost we are told we don’t have to work it out, or worry once we reach the registers. In fact no one really thinks or talks much about it anymore.

    I didn’t realise other countries had such varying tax laws! It must get confusing. :-S

    Also I think you bring up a good point that if clothing is taxed, fabric really shouldn’t be.

  69. Patti April 11, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    I live in Oregon, as well, with no sales tax. Oregonians who travel to Washington State do not pay sales tax when shopping if they show their Oregon Driver’s License. Most shops honor this in my experience. I travel to the Seattle-Tacoma area a couple of times a year.

  70. The Cupcake Goddess April 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    Utah here. 6.86% (or around there) on nearly everything. I don’t know that I think about it that much, but I definitely would if I were paying 12%. How awful! It should definitely be tax free. It is definitely an essential, I mean what would we clothe ourselves in otherwise. Besides, it would be a great incentive for people to learn how to sew, right? That’s a fabulous thought!

  71. Caro April 11, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    Oh man when the HST arrived in BC, I was very disappointed fabric would now be 12% instead of the GST is used be (if my memory is correct…). Well….seeing the way BC and Federal politics has been going for the past while….it makes me wish I wasn’t so interested in politics. Lately I’ve had to stop reading newspapers or watching CBC newsworld in order focus on sewing and life in general more. The world is very disappointing right now. I don’t even know if I’ll vote in the upcoming election, I wouldn’t know who to vote for. And in terms of BC repealing the unpopular HST…it’s possible but who knows what Christie Clark and the Liberals are up to.

  72. Rachel April 11, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

    As Tegan said, here it’s 10% but as it’s included in the price it’s not something you think about at all. I find having a price excluding taxes just baffling, it confuses me so much when i’ve visited the US because I never had any idea how much I need to pay for stuff.

  73. fangaroni April 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm #

    12% tax on fabric seems a bit hefty! Clothing and fabric are taxed the same in NYC. Starting this month, no more tax on clothing (therefore fabric) if it is under $55! The tax situation kind of changes every few years though, because the state and city levy different taxes, and it depends on how much money the state or city wants to get in taxes. But next year, they will increase the minimum to allow for no tax on clothing under $110! I recommend a visit to NYC, when you pay cash, many of the smaller stores don’t really charge tax (even when it was 4% tax earlier this year)

  74. fangaroni April 11, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    *** Added: I mean smaller fabric stores tend not to charge tax when you pay cash, not other types of stores! Notions/accessories/everything else except basic groceries are 8.87% sales tax.

  75. Scheri Manson April 11, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    I am in Edmonton, Alberta CANADA and our tax is 5% GST.

    I purchase online from ebay, esty,,,, never have any problems!

    I do also shop locally but inventory is limited.

  76. Justine April 11, 2011 at 11:17 pm #

    In the UK most things are taxed by a whopping 20%, this was increased from 17.5% in January of this year.

    Fabric is included in this,in fact the only things that aren’t taxed are food, children’s clothing, newspapers & magazines!!

    The way the UK differs from the USA/Canada is that our price tickets show just one price and that includes the tax, it is not added on seperately at the cash register. I find this is easier as there are no nasty shocks at the cash register if you forget to calculate the tax!!

  77. Stephanie April 12, 2011 at 2:44 am #

    In Australia we have a GST, which means a 10% tax on all non-essential items/services. i.e. basic food items do not attract a GST. You can buy ‘tax-free’ by shopping overseas online but shipping is normally more than 10% (assuming an equivalently priced fabric).

    However what many people may not realise is the ‘indirect’ taxes & duties on fabrics they are buying i.e. the taxes paid by the fabric seller in obtaining the roll stock. My understanding is in Australia we charge duties on fabrics imported into the country but on not on fabrics that were manufactured here (please correct me if I’m wrong here). I’m not sure what the situation is in other countries. I believe this is to protect our local textile industry from completely moving offshore, as we are very close to (much) cheaper manufacturing bases in Asia. Based on this you may be paying more tax than you think, however in this instance I’d argue it is a good thing, the duties are designed to protect your local industries.

  78. Marianne April 12, 2011 at 2:51 am #

    Same here in Norway as in Sweden. Everything is taxed. Food is 12% and everything else is 24%. So fabric is 24%. But as in Sweden, everything is listed including tax.

  79. The Sew Convert April 12, 2011 at 4:26 am #

    In Singapore, there is no tax if I buy from chinatown cos’ they are all small shops/ operations but at Spotlight there will be 7% GST. And what an interesting question :)

  80. Becky April 12, 2011 at 5:13 am #

    I live in Delaware, and we don’t have sales tax on anything. This generally seems to extend to online purchases as well. It’s definitely one of the biggest perks of living here. :-)

  81. patty the snugbug April 12, 2011 at 6:41 am #

    I’m finding myself totally intrigued by this tax question… I don’t know about other US fabric (and other stuff) buyers, but I TOTALLY don’t think about tax. I mean, I know that there will be tax on some things, but it doesn’t really enter into my head when I’m deciding if something is ‘worth it’ – i.e. – if I’m at Target and i buy a $10 bathtowel (that will be taxed) and a $10 steak (not taxed), I’d still consider them both $10.

    The only time I really think about taxes (well, sales taxes) is when buying something really big – like a car or a TV or a computer. Then I’ll at least try to buy in the surrounding city with the lowest tax rate. Also, the sales tax (and tip) make figuring out a group bill when you go out to dinner a giant pain!!

  82. msmodiste April 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    @Caro: If you really don’t know who to vote for, or don’t want to vote for any of them, show up and spoil your ballot! Much better than not showing up to vote at all. Democracy is a team sport ;-) (/threadjack… sorry Tasia!)

  83. Vicki Kate April 12, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Another one in the UK with 20% tax. But as another pointed out our health care is paid for as is maternity / paternity leave and the money has to come from somewhere! I’m really pleased that all our prices are tax inclusive in retail stores – I’d hate to find something that I love and have to remember to put a percentage on it… particularly if that % suddenly meant I couldn’t afford it!

  84. Darci April 12, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    @Laurie: I heart Fabric Depot! More than 80% of my fabric comes from there, and I work down the street from it.

    The Outdoor Sale (starts May-ish, runs thru Sept.) is the best time to get the biggest bargains. I’ve found really good stuff starting at $3 a yard. Maybe that’s why my stash is so…stashy. :)

  85. Jen April 12, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    This is interesting…I presently live in WV, where, like my home state of Michigan, everything is taxed, including food. (Since food and clothing are necessities for living, I think they ought not be taxed ANYWHERE, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic!) However, we live in a tri-state area, and there are no taxes on fabric or sewing supplies used for clothing in Pennsylvania; no taxes on clothing in PA, either. It’s quite nice. Unless I need something immediately, which necessitates a trip to the Ohio Joann just over the Ohio River, I wait and buy it all at the fabric shop in Pittsburgh (45 minutes or so), and save on the taxes.

    Really, I don’t think tax should be charged on apparel or items used to make apparel, period. Yes, there will be people buying fabric for curtains who lie and say, “Oh, yes, I’m making a dress!”, but it just seems wrong to tax necessities.

  86. Pink Hollybush Designs April 12, 2011 at 6:56 pm #


    Connecticut is one of the heaviest taxed states when they compare overall tax rates among the states (lets not discuss gas prices right now). But I do have to be thankful that there is no tax on fabric and anything that goes into making a garment. Patterns and needles are taxed as well as Quilting fabric and home dec. We also have no tax on clothing items under $50.00 which makes a lot of sense.


  87. Amelia April 12, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    Just to clarify the tax in Canada, the 12% you’re talking about, Tasia, is HST – a general sales tax (to everyone else) that is applied to most everything. Here in Alberta, we only have 5% GST (federal Government Sales Tax) without any provincial sales tax. I don’t know if Canadians pay GST on fabric, but I’m pretty sure we do – the GST (and HST/PST) is levied on everything except essentials. The reason milk, eggs, toilet paper, etc. aren’t taxed, but almost everything else is is to avoid penalizing low-income people who only buy groceries and life necessities. It wouldn’t be fair to charge sales tax on those things, but it is fair to charge it on things you don’t *need* (or so the rationale goes).

    Also, in Canada, I’m pretty sure we have a textile levy. That’s a special tax on fabric that is attached when the fabric is imported. This makes it more expensive for stores to import fabric and that cost is of course passed along to the consumer, which is at least partially why fabric is so much more expensive here than it is in the US. I’m kinda jealous of those of you close enough to the border to be able to hop across whenever the fancy strikes – I’m 8 hours north of the border!

  88. Rachel April 12, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

    Slightly off topic, but two things in relation to “essentials” not being taxed and “optional” or “luxury” items.

    The first is that in Australia, last I heard, feminine hygiene items are subject to GST, so for a while the supermarkets were advertising a promotion where they would “pay the GST” on the items as they are an essential rather than an optional item.

    Also, there’s a funny story regarding the english snack “Jaffa Cakes” and tax, as cakes aren’t (or weren’t?) considered a luxury and weren’t taxed, but chocolate biscuits were, and were therefore subject to VAT:

  89. louise April 13, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    the debate about jaffa cakes and whether they’re cake or biscuit is an ongoing, sometimes highly emotive debate in IRE and UK!!! :-)
    but back to tax, i actually work in this area (not for the taxman though!), the EU imposes VAT (Value Added Tax) on all economic transactions, the rates here in Ireland vary between 0 and 21% depending on what you’re buying. The price you look at in a shop will generally be vat inclusive, so no shocks, unlike when i visited the US!
    VAT is passed on through the chain of production though so it is the final consumer who pays it, if you were in business and paid vat on purchases to do with your business you can claim back the vat paid against the vat that you had to charge your customers and therefore pay over to the revenue/taxman.
    someone mentioned above that for them because its all inclusive if the rate goes down a lot of retailers don’t drop the price to reflect that, thankfully here in Ireland where our vat rate has yoyoed a bit over the last couple years thats not the case – pain in the *ss for the shops who have to reprice everything though!

  90. Lois April 14, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    In Oklahoma we have the state sales tax. Then sometimes people in the county and the city have voted local sales tax on top of that. It is on most things, including food. The state legislature sometimes tries to vote food out of it. But in the small towns, sometimes all the business they have is one convenience store. If the town didn’t get sales tax from that, they wouldn’t have near as much money. So it hasn’t passed yet.

    I think in my town the overall rate is about 8.5. With getting up that high it is sometimes a problem if you haven’t thought about it before you get to the register. When you send in your tax return you are supposed to pay a use tax for things you’ve bought over the internet. But it’s a self-reported thing. I think most people don’t.

  91. Rhia April 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    This issue seems to gather quite a lot of replies ;) People don’t like taxes. Anyway, here in Finland we have pretty high taxrate. Our VAT is 23% at the moment and government is threathening to rise it this year (they did one rise last year). And that 23% covers pretty much everything. Except books and magazines, restaurants and meal services have 13% and sewing repairs and hairdressers have 9% (although that 9% is suppose to go way up high to 23% on the beginning of next year). Product without tax doesn’t really excist here. Only when you go abroad you are able to buy taxfree stuff.
    So our fabrics and haberdashery has 23% tax, which sucks big time. Everything seems to be more expensive here anyway, compared to pretty much any other country. Even if you compare to the countries that have same taxrate.
    But thankfully all prices in shops are tax-included so you see the actual amount straight away. Much easier that way.

  92. Alana April 15, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Wow and I thought the 15% GST we pay in New Zealand was pretty average. We pay it on everything icluding food and fabric. But as others have said it’s already included on the printed price so I don’t really think about it. :)

  93. Shalyn April 15, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    Ah, that beloved HST! I live in Vancouver as well, so have the same HST applicable, but I moved here from NY, so that taxes seemed crazy high to me before this last hike. I remember going on day trips to Boston just to take advantage of their no sales tax policy.

    I work in theatre, which is another area that has had sudden high taxes applied to the tickets that wasn’t there before HST. The taxes are a serious hindrance to me for fabric (and tickets) as I’m on a very tight budget. When I add up how much things are costing me as I shop through Dressew, I always forget that I’m going to get hit with the taxes in the end and inevitably end up paying more than I was supposed to spend that day. It comes back to haunt me when my hubby sees the receipts.

    If I could vote here, I would certainly love to see taxes removed from those items.

  94. 1congn1to April 20, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Here in Belgium we have 3 different taxes. 21% for non-essentials, 12% for some products (they don’t really define it, but I know that at restaurants you pay a 12% tax) and 6% for essentials like bread (food) and stuff. All taxes are included in the price, unless otherwise specified.

    Clothing is 12% (I think, not sure about it) and fabric is 21% (again, not sure). So all in all, you can be happy with your taxes ^^ (except the ones with 25% (denmark) and 23% (greece))

  95. Mary June 9, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    Currently living in Mb, but moving to Bangkok for work. Sounds as though you all need to hit the local markets when you travel. The fabric district in Bkk has excellent deals compared to Cdn or European shops. I picked up very pretty swimsuit material for five Cdn per meter. (Think two hundred dollar swimsuit!) I’ve bought really heavy lace (think 50-75 Cdn per meter) for 12-15 Cdn per meter. And that was hardly any haggling.

    I can tell you from experience that Bangkok has a great fabric market. If you don’t find what you like in a shop, no problem, go up a floor or two. Also the back alleys are packed with more stalls, and shops. It isn’t a problem getting there either. But don’t go with someone who glazes over in these situations. :-) You could be distracted awhile. Some cabbies refer to this district as the “Indian Market”. But there are enough cabbies who speak English, you should be alright just saying fabric market.

    Jakarta has two major markets, the good market is too small, and the big market is a huge place that I didn’t feel safe in. Not worth making a special trip.

    By far the best fabric market I’ve seen is Souq Safat in Kuwait City. You cannot beat this place for quality. Runway silks, Designer upholsteries, every shade of linen ever made, every shade 97cotton/3spandex ever made, and a thousand and one other temptations. I’ve never seen so many trims in my life, although there aren’t nearly as many buttons to choose from as you’d expect. Best deals ever on zippers, and those generic little buttons for mens shirts were a dollar per hundred last time I was there. They also had a variety of linings. (one called air-condition polyester) So breathable and so cheap I actually bought an entire bolt of it. Pretty sure it was less than a dollar a meter.

    My Chinese sister-in-law informs me that the worlds best fabric market is in Hong Kong. I haven’t been, but it is a shoppers paradise according to everyone who has been.

    By the way, to bargain effectively, don’t wear your nicest clothing, don’t wear jewelry (beyond wedding ring) and never offer more than half of what they are asking. If you are from Europe check American fabric prices online before shopping, then settle for a little less than half of that price. Keep in mind you are cutting out shipping fees, and middlemen.
    KNOW your prices and it is a very good idea to brush up on your fabric content knowledge. Test the breathability by breathing through it! Look up burn tests, and carry a lighter with you. When the guys lie, and tell you that certain things are silk, or pure cotton, you whip out that lighter and the lies stop!

    If any of you, my fellow seamstresses come to Bangkok let me know on the pattern review site. I’m DOMESTICATEMENNONITE .

  96. Collie August 1, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    I live in the Netherlands and all the products you buy have 19% tax. Unfortunately, even on fabrics and patterns.

    There is also a 6% tax, but only for certain services.

    Groetjes, Collie

  97. caru October 5, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    i live in Calgary, I came from Chile one year ago, here you have to pay 5% for anything but when you pay, not like in Chile you pay 19%but is in the price so you don’t think about it. But here fabrics are so expensive than in Chile, sometime I have to pay tripe value than in Chile. So, when my mom came to visit me I ask some essentials. Cotton and “sport knits” are really expensive more than 20CAD per meter and without GST.

  98. Debbie July 12, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    I have a small shop in BC . .we got around the shock at the till by including the tax(es) in all our prices. The price you see is the price you pay!