Ways to Save Money

Do You Live in One of These States? You Could Shop Tax-Free This Weekend!

Updated July 28, 2016
by Jamie Cattanach
Contributor

I’m the kind of nerd who was always really, really excited for back-to-school shopping.

Fresh pens with inks of many different colors! Brand-new notebooks with zero torn-out or scribbled-on pages!

A NEW TRAPPER-KEEPER. Possibly of the Lisa Frank variety.

But my parents, alas, were less thrilled than I.

After all, the recurring annual cost of school supplies can really add up… especially if your overly eager nerdlet petitions you for (another) set of every-color-of-the-rainbow gel pens.

And that’s just stuff you could say “no” to if you’re immune to big-eyed kids. Pens and notebooks can be reused, but clothing that fits is a little less negotiable. And since kids are really good at changing sizes, clothing them can become a giant money-sink.

But luckily, if you live in one of these 16 states, you’ll catch a little break on your back-to-school needs.

Does Your State Hold a Tax Free Weekend for the Back to School Season?

Each of the following states holds a tax-free weekend in late July or August to incentivize shoppers during the slow summer season, and to ease the back-to-school burden parents face each year.

But before you wrangle the kids for an exciting trip down an aisle lined with brightly-colored plastic, be sure to check the fine print.

The dates, and eligible items, vary by state — and some states impose price caps, over which items will incur sales tax regardless of eligibility.

Here’s a handy list of who’s holding a tax-free weekend in 2016, and what you can expect.

Alabama

When: August 5-7

What: Clothing, computers, books and school supplies

Restrictions: Clothing must cost less than $100 per item; computers and software must be a one-time purchase of $750 or less; school supplies are subject to a $50 price cap and books must cost $30 or less each.

Arkansas

When: August 6-7

What: Clothing and school supplies

Restrictions: Clothing items must be priced at less than $100 apiece, and “clothing accessories or equipment” less than $50.

Connecticut

When: August 21-27

What: Clothing and footwear

Restrictions: Price must be less than $300 per item, excludes “athletic or protective clothing or footwear, jewelry, handbags, luggage, umbrellas, wallets, watches, and similar items.”

Florida

When: August 5-7

What: School supplies, clothing and computers

Restrictions: Garments and accessories up to $60 each are eligible; shoes limited to $60 per pair and school supplies limited to $15 per item.

And if you were planning to sneak away for an hour of your Disney World summer vacation to take advantage of the sale, you might need to change your plans: “Sales tax will still apply to purchases made in theme parks, entertainment complexes, hotels, and airports,” according to Tax Free Weekend.

Sorry, tourists. Thanks for stimulating our economy!

Georgia

When: July 30-31

What: School supplies, clothing and computers

Restrictions: School supplies must cost $20 or less; clothing must cost $100 or less per article and computers and accessories must cost $1,000 or less.

Iowa

When: August 5-6

What: Clothing

Restrictions: Each item’s price must be less than $100.

Maryland

When: August 14-20

What: Clothing and footwear

Restrictions: “Qualifying apparel and footwear $100 or less, per item, are exempt from the state sales tax. Accessory items are not included.”

Mississippi

When: July 29-30

What: Clothing and footwear

Restrictions: All items must have a sales price of less than $100.

Missouri

When: August 5-7

What: Clothing, computers and school supplies

Restrictions: Clothing and footwear must have a taxable value of $100 or less, and accessories like handbags are not included.

School supplies are “not to exceed $50 per purchase.” Personal computers and peripheral devices are eligible so long as they’re listed at less than $3,500, and software worth up to $350 qualifies, too.

Missouri has some additional restrictions and blocked-out zones. “Not all local cities are participating,” reads Tax Free Weekend, “including Brentwood, Clayton, Des Peres, Frontenac, Kirkwood, Ladue, Maplewood, Richmond Heights, University City, and Webster Groves.”

The site also specifies you can’t put something on layaway and buy it later tax-free. That said, you don’t have to be a Missouri resident to take part in the sale!

New Mexico

When: August 5-7

What: Clothing, computers, computer equipment and school supplies

Restrictions: The sale covers “all clothing and shoes under $100,” as well as school supplies under $15, computers under $1,000 and computer equipment under $500.

Ohio

When: August 5-7

What: Clothing and school supplies

Restrictions: Ohio’s tax holiday covers clothing priced at $75 or less per piece and school supplies or instructional materials priced at $20 or less each.

Oklahoma

When: August 5-7

What: Clothing

Restrictions: Clothing and shoes must be priced under $100.

South Carolina

When: August 5-7

What: Clothing, school supplies and computers

Restrictions: No price caps are listed for South Carolina’s tax break, which covers “clothing, shoes, school supplies, bookbags, computers, printers, bedspreads and linens.” Some non-exempt items include cosmetics, jewelry, furniture and eyewear.

Tennessee

When: July 29-31

What: Clothing, school supplies and computers

Restrictions: Tennessee’s tax holiday’s restrictions are specific and listed here.

The short story? Eligible clothing items must be priced at $100 or less, school supplies must be under $100 and computers under $1,500. Separately-sold computer parts, like monitors, are still subject to taxation when not purchased with a CPU.

Texas

When: August 5-7

What: Clothing, backpacks and school supplies

Restrictions: The tax holiday covers most clothing and shoes priced under $100, and backpacks priced under $100 that are “sold for use by elementary and secondary students.” Wheeled backpacks qualify so long as they can still be worn on the back in the traditional manner.

School supplies priced less than $100 are also eligible, though there are restrictions against using a business account to pay for the items.

Layaway items are eligible “if the customer places the qualifying merchandise on layaway during the holiday or makes the final payment during the holiday.”

Virginia

When: August 5-7

What: Clothing and school supplies

Restrictions: Clothing and footwear must be priced at $100 or less, and school supplies must be priced at $20 or less.

Virginia also provides a tax break for emergency preparedness items like generators ($1,000 or less), gas-powered chainsaws ($350 or less) and chainsaw accessories ($60 or less).

If your state’s on the list, you can find the full details pertaining to your tax break here.

A Note About Massachusetts

While the state has held tax holidays almost every year since 2004, unfortunately it has decided to cancel the break this year owing to a predicted $600 million shortage in revenues.

Wicked letdown, huh?

Looking for More Ways to Save on Back-to-School Shopping?

You’ve come to the right place.

Maybe skip shopping for school clothes altogether — we’ve got 10 ways to get ‘em for free (or close to it).

And school supplies don’t have to cost very much at all. In fact, this mom got her two kids set up for just $19.05, which is less than the per-item price cap on a lot of states’ tax holidays!

You can also hunt for deals and coupons, use a cash-back credit card and make good use of your local library.

You’ll be all set for the first day of school before you know it! Now, about getting everyone out of bed and ready on time…

Your Turn: Does your state have a tax-free weekend for back-to-school shopping?

Jamie Cattanach is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder who still totally geeks out over brand-new pens. Her writing has also been featured at The Write Life, Word Riot, Nashville Review and elsewhere. Find @JamieCattanach on Twitter to wave hello.

by Jamie Cattanach
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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