Take Advantage of the Sales-Tax Holiday to Save on Back-to-School Shopping

Back-to-school shopping may be exciting for the kids who’ll get new gear, but less so for the parents who have to pay for it all.

Last year, the National Retail Federation estimated the average household with kids in elementary through high school was expected to spend about $688 on new clothes, shoes, electronics and school supplies. That’s more than the $608 the retail association predicted the average consumer would spend buying holiday gifts.

Some shoppers will be able to find a little financial relief this summer as 16 states hold tax-free holidays during July and August, saving consumers from paying sales tax on certain school-related items.

Now, you may not save a ton of money by shopping during tax-free holidays. For example, if you bought $500 worth of clothes, shoes and school supplies during Florida’s tax-free weekend in a county where the sales tax is 7%, you would save only $35. But what parent wouldn’t want to save 35 bucks?

Some states’ tax-free holidays are held over a weekend, while others are a week long. Each state has different criteria for what merchandise won’t be taxed, and many states require the purchases to be under a certain a price threshold.

The states that have back-to-school tax-free holidays this year are Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Alabama

When: July 20-22

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — $100 or less per item.
  • Books — $30 or less per item.
  • School supplies — $50 or less per item.
  • Computers and related equipment — $750 or less per item.

Arkansas

When: Aug. 4-5

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — less than $100 per item.
  • Clothing accessories — less than $50 per item.
  • School supplies — no price threshold, but must be on a state-approved list.

Connecticut

When: Aug. 19-25

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — less than $100 per item.

Florida

When: Aug. 3-5

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing, accessories and shoes — $60 or less per item.
  • School supplies — $15 or less per item.

Iowa

When: Aug. 3-4

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — less than $100 per item.

Maryland

When: Aug. 12-18

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — $100 or less per item.
  • Bookbags/backpacks — the first $40 is tax-free.

Mississippi

When: July 27-28

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — less than $100 per item.

Missouri

When: Aug. 3-5

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — $100 or less per item.
  • School supplies — $50 or less per purchase (exception: graphing calculators must be $150 or less).
  • Computers and related equipment — $1,500 or less per item.
  • Computer software — $350 or less.

New Mexico

When: Aug. 3-5

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing, accessories and shoes — less than $100 per item.
  • School supplies — less than $30 per item (exceptions: backpacks, maps and globes must be under $100 and calculators must be under $200).
  • Computers — $1,000 or less per item.
  • Computer hardware — $500 or less per item.

Ohio

When: Aug. 3-5

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — $75 or less per item.
  • School supplies — $20 or less per item.

Oklahoma

When: Aug. 3-5

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — less than $100 per item.

South Carolina

When: Aug. 3-5

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing, accessories and shoes — no price threshold.
  • School supplies — no price threshold.
  • Computers and related equipment — no price threshold.
  • Bedding, pillows, bath towels, wash cloths and shower curtains — no price threshold.

Tennessee

When: July 27-29

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — $100 or less per item.
  • School supplies — $100 or less per item.
  • Computers — $1,500 or less per item.

Texas

When: Aug. 10-12

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — less than $100 per item.
  • School supplies — less than $100 per item.

Virginia

When: Aug. 3-5

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — $100 or less per item.
  • School supplies — $20 or less per item.

Wisconsin

When: Aug. 1-5

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — $75 or less per item.
  • School supplies — $75 or less per item.
  • Computer — $750 or less.
  • Computer supplies/equipment — $250 or less per item.

If you’re looking for other ways to save on back-to-school shopping, check out these posts:

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Her kid will be starting school for the first time this year, so she’s looking for deals on school gear. But it really isn’t back-to-school shopping if it’s the first year, right?

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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