Buying and Selling Dogs, Cats, and Other Nonfood Animals (Publication 122)

This publication is designed to help you understand how sales or use tax applies on sales or purchases of dogs, cats, and other nonfood animals. Sales tax generally applies to sales of animals, birds, reptiles, and insects that do not meet the definition of "food animals," whether they are used for working stock, breeding, pets, or other purposes. Please see Regulation 1587, Animal Life, Feed, Drugs and Medicines.

Pet sellers generally need a seller’s permit

Generally, you must register with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) for a seller's permit if you are engaged in the business of selling dogs, cats, or other animals which are considered nonfood animals in California.

There are some exceptions:

  • If you sell no more than two pets or other nonfood animals during a twelve-month period, you are not required to hold a seller's permit.
  • Cities, counties, or other local government animal shelters or nonprofit animal welfare organizations—those that primarily prevent abuse, neglect, or exploitation of animals—are not required to collect sales tax for charges related to the adoptions of pets.

Nonfood animals defined

Nonfood animals are animals commonly kept as pets or companions, and are not sold for food (human consumption).

Nonfood animals include animals such as:

Dogs and Cats
Tropical fish
Rodents such as guinea pigs, rats, hamsters, and mice
Reptiles such as iguanas, lizards, or snakes
Pet birds
Chinchillas and Mink

Applying tax to sales of pets or other nonfood animals in California

If you sell more than two pets or other nonfood animals in a twelve-month period, you must obtain a seller's permit, and report and pay sales tax to the CDTFA. The rate of sales tax will depend on the location of the sale. For information about tax rates in specific areas, please select California City and County Sales and Use Tax Rates.)

Please note: This publication summarizes the law and applicable regulations in effect when the publication was written, as noted above. However, changes in the law or in regulations may have occurred since that time. If there is a conflict between the text in this publication and the law, decisions will be based on the law and not on this publication.

Revision July 2018