Sales Tax in the States

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Unlike prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications are taxed in several states, meaning those seeking relief from minor but disruptive symptoms face inflated prices at checkout. For a household on a tight budget, even a few extra dollars can determine whether or not critical OTC treatments make it into the shopping basket. If common ailments then go untreated due to cost barriers, outcomes often worsen. Therefore, eliminating sales taxes on these accessible nonprescription products offers an impactful way to encourage more proactive, cost-effective health management.

The Issue

Applying sales tax to over-the-counter health products like cold medicine and pain relievers makes access to first-line medical care less affordable for low-income families and individuals already struggling to make ends meet.

CHPA’s Position

Given that prescription medications filled at pharmacies are universally exempt from sales tax, over-the-counter drugs merit the same tax-free status. State and local authorities aiming to support public health should strongly consider aligning tax codes so these essential, everyday healthcare products remain affordable and accessible to all, especially vulnerable low-income populations.

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