Sales Tax Slice: Is it Hot in Here or Am I Lazy? – The Taxability of Home Maintenance Services

Well, the dog days of summer are here. If you’re anything like me, that means you’re feeling a little bit languid and lot less like doing the usual chores around the house and yard. (FYI: studies find that having kids do chores is good for them, just in case any parents are looking for another excuse to outsource work to their children.) But, what if you’d like to call in a paid third party to help out; are those services taxable?

As with most sales tax questions, the answer varies tremendously by state and by service. For example, if an overheated homeowner in Texas decides to beat the heat by hiring someone to mow the lawn, those services are subject to sales and use tax as taxable lawn and yard maintenance. If a different, but still overly-warm, homeowner in Virginia decides to buy those same services, they’ll be tax free. In Connecticut, lawn mowing services are taxable, but other landscaping services are exempt from sales tax. If landscaping services are rendered to a person eligible for and receiving total disability benefits under the Social Security Act, the services are exempt so long as they are rendered at the residence of that person.

What if you’ve got a pool to cool yourself down, but can no longer muster the requisite energy to clean it without wilting? The overheated homeowner in Texas is out-of-luck again, as pool cleaning services are taxable in Texas. Homeowners in California are in luck as pool cleaning services there are not subject to sales and use tax. In Ohio, the taxability of pool cleaning services depends on whether the pool is indoors or outdoors; indoor pool cleaning is considered a taxable building maintenance or janitorial service while outdoor pool cleaning is nontaxable.

Even if you’re determined to stay inside, you still might not feel up to cleaning the house. If the sales tax is the deciding factor in hiring someone else to clean the oven, you’ll be relieved to know that a majority of states do not impose sales tax on cleaning or janitorial services. However, a large minority including New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania do. In Kansas, the services are only taxable if they include waxing, varnishing or applying fabric treatments or protective coatings to furniture or carpet.

All this nuance and complexity in the taxation of services may make figuring it out a chore in itself. Luckily, all this heat is definitely making me think it’s worth it!

Continue the discussion on LinkedIn: Should home maintenance services be subject to sales and use tax?

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By Emilie Burnette