CA Exempts PPE From Sales and Use Taxes Before Agreeing to Acquire 200 Million PPE Items Monthly

COVID-19 Update

As requirements for donning personal protective equipment (PPE) grow for essential workers, the government is working to balance PPE demand while taking unprecedented steps to obtain supply.

  • California Governor Gavin Newsom exempts the sale of PPE to the State from sales and use taxes.
  • Newsom advances $495 million to ensure flow of 200 million PPE items monthly.
  • The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides enforcement guidance in light of PPE shortage.
  • City of Los Angeles aims to balance the PPE shortage with mandates to wear face coverings at specified businesses.

On April 7, 2020, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order exempting gross receipts from sales and use taxes for transactions with the State to purchase PPE. Newsom declared that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to global shortages in PPE and found that the resulting market conditions (i.e., unprecedented demand) required that he take the extraordinary action of exempting sales of PPE to the State from sales and use taxes to remove these costs as a potential hindrance in the acquisition of masks, gloves, eye protection, gowns and other critical PPE necessary to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The Governor also announced that the State has reached agreements that will lead to the monthly acquisition of 200 million pieces of PPE, such as surgical and N95 masks. Given the necessity of acquiring such a significant volume of supplies in an expedited manner in response to the pandemic, the California Office of Emergency Services will provide an initial payment of $495 million to secure the supply of masks, with a balance of payments upon receipt of deliveries estimated to total well over a billion dollars.

OSHA Revises Enforcement Guidance

The PPE shortage has also been a focus of OSHA, which has issued revised enforcement guidance on respiratory PPE on three occasions in response to COVID-19, as recently as April 8, 2020:

Los Angeles Requires Face Covering

Local governments are also sensitive to the global shortage of PPE needed to protect public health workers. On April 7, 2020, City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a Worker Protection Order that will require certain non-medical essential workers and customers of those identified essential businesses (e.g., grocery stores) to wear face coverings beginning on April 10. But Mayor Garcetti’s order recognizes the shortage of medical-grade masks and specifically states that, at this time, the required face coverings are not medical-grade or N95 respirators, but rather fabric coverings such as scarves and bandanas.

For a complete list of California’s state and local orders, please visit and bookmark this page.

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