What do you need to know about the Maine sales tax?

1 min read by Unbiased team Last updated June 28, 2024

Explore the essentials of the Maine sales tax system and how it affects you and your financial planning.

What is the sales tax in Maine? 

Maine's sales tax is a consumption tax levied on the sale of goods and services within the state.  

The state of Maine's sales tax rate is currently 5.5%. Retailers collect this tax at the point of sale and then remit it to the state government.  

The revenue generated from this tax helps fund various public services and infrastructure projects, contributing to the overall well-being of Maine residents. 

Unlike some other states, Maine does not have additional local city or county sales taxes. This means that the sales tax remains consistent at 5.5% throughout the state, simplifying the tax calculation process for both consumers and businesses. 

How do you calculate the Maine sales tax by city? 

Understanding how to calculate sales tax in Maine is straightforward due to the absence of local city sales taxes.  

Here’s a table showcasing the uniform sales tax rate across Maine's cities

CityMinimum combined rate
Auburn 5.50%
Augusta 5.50%
Bangor 5.50%
Bath 5.50%
Belfast 5.50%
Biddeford 5.50%
Brewer 5.50%
Calais 5.50%
Caribou 5.50%
Eastport 5.50%
Ellsworth 5.50%
Gardiner 5.50%
Hallowell 5.50%
Lewiston 5.50%
Old Town 5.50%
Portland 5.50%
Presque Isle 5.50%
Rockland 5.50%
Saco 5.50%
Sanford 5.50%
South Portland 5.50%
Waterville 5.50%
Westbrook 5.50%

How do you calculate the Maine sales tax by county? 

Similarly, Maine does not have county-specific sales taxes. This uniformity helps consumers and businesses understand their tax obligations.  

Here is a table illustrating the consistent rates for sales tax in Maine counties

CityMinimum combined rate
Androscoggin 5.50%
Aroostook 5.50%
Cumberland 5.50%
Franklin 5.50%
Hancock 5.50%
Kennebec 5.50%
Knox 5.50%
Lincoln 5.50%
Oxford 5.50%
Penobscot 5.50%
Sagadahoc 5.50%
Somerset 5.50%
Waldo 5.50%
Washington 5.50%
York 5.50%

What services are subject to sales tax in Maine? 

In Maine, most services are not taxable.  

The state primarily taxes the sale of tangible goods, but certain services are also taxed. These include: 

  • Lodging and rentals: Short-term lodging and rental services are taxed at 9%. 

  • Prepared food: Sales of prepared food, such as restaurant meals, are taxed at 8%. 

  • Telecommunications services: Subject to the standard 5.5% sales tax rate. 

  • Amusements: Admission charges for events and entertainment venues are taxed at 5.5%. 

On the other hand, many services do not pay Maine sales tax, including professional services (legal, medical, etc.), educational services, and most personal services. These exemptions exist to reduce the tax burden on essential services and encourage economic activity.

What items are subject to sales tax in Maine? 

When it comes to what is subject to sales tax in Maine, most tangible personal property sold is subject to the state sales tax of 5.5%.  

This includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Clothing and apparel: Everyday clothing items. 

  • Electronics: Computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices. 

  • Furniture: Household and office furniture. 

  • Household goods: Kitchenware, bedding, and similar items. 

What are Maine sales tax exemptions? 

Maine sales tax exemptions ensure that the tax system remains fair and supports essential needs. Items and services exempt from sales tax include: 

  • Groceries: Unprepared food items are exempt to alleviate the cost burden on basic necessities. 

  • Prescription drugs: Medications prescribed by a licensed professional are tax-exempt, making healthcare more affordable. 

  • Medical equipment: Certain medical supplies and equipment are also exempt to support health and wellness. 

  • Educational materials: Textbooks and other educational materials may be exempt to support learning. 

These exemptions are designed to lower the cost of living in Maine, reduce the financial strain on households, and promote health and education within the state. 

Does Maine’s sales tax online differ from offline? 

With the rise of e-commerce, understanding how online sales tax works is crucial.  

Maine sales tax online purchases are generally subject to the same rates as offline purchases. Retailers who have a physical presence or significant sales within the state are required to collect and remit sales tax on online sales. 

However, if an online retailer does not collect sales tax, the responsibility falls on the consumer to report and pay a use tax equivalent to the sales tax. This requirement ensures that all purchases, whether online or offline, contribute fairly to the state's revenue. 

Consumers who make tax-free online purchases but are living in Maine must report these purchases on their state income tax return and pay the corresponding use tax. This process helps maintain equity between in-state and out-of-state retailers. 

What is Maine’s sales tax fairness credit? 

The Maine Sales Tax Fairness Credit (STFC) is a provision designed to offset the sales tax burden for low- and moderate-income residents. It aims to ensure that sales tax does not disproportionately impact those with lower incomes. 

Eligible individuals and families can claim this credit when filing their state income tax return.  

The credit amount depends on income and family size, providing significant relief to those who qualify. This initiative underscores Maine’s commitment to a fair and equitable tax system. 

Get expert financial advice 

Understanding the Maine state sales tax system can greatly impact how residents and businesses manage their finances. By knowing what goods and services are taxed, recognizing the exemptions, and understanding the use tax, Mainers can make more informed purchasing decisions.  

Let Unbiased connect you with a financial advisor for expert financial advice on navigating the Maine sales tax system and maximizing available credits and exemptions. 

Writers

Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.