School has only been out for a week in my area, and I’ve already received an email about back-to-school sales tax holidays (kudos to South Carolina Department of Revenue for being the most proactive). While parents like me aren’t thrilled to be thinking about spending for back-to-school already, when every dollar counts, taking advantage of state sales tax holidays can help reduce costs.
According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, last year the average family with grade school children had completed 45% of their shopping as of early August. That tends to coincide with the timing of back-to-school holidays. Here is a quick peek at states offering taxpayers a break on sales tax for back-to-school items this year:
- Alabama (July 20–22) Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing ($100 or less per item), computers (single purchase up to $750), school supplies, art supplies or school instructional materials ($50 or less per item) and books ($30 or less per item). Not all counties and municipalities are participating, so check the state link for a list of participating locations.
- Arkansas (August 4-5) Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing and footwear ($100 or less, per item), clothing accessories ($50 or less per item), school supplies, art supplies and school supplies. All retailers are required to participate and may not charge tax on items that are legally tax-exempt during the Sales Tax Holiday.
- Florida (August 3-5) Exemptions include clothing, shoes, wallets, handbags and backpacks that cost $60 or less. Computers that cost less than $750 and school supplies, such as pens, pencils, binders and lunch boxes that cost less than $15 are also included. Web link coming!
- Iowa (August 3-4) Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing or footwear (up to $100 per item); for any item that costs $100 or more, sales tax applies to the entire price of that item.
- Louisiana (August 4-5) Provides a 2% exemption from the state sales tax, meaning eligible purchases are subject to only 3% state sales tax.
- Mississippi (July 27-28). Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing and footwear ($100 or less per item regardless of how many items are sold at the same time); accessory items such as jewelry, handbags, wallets, watches, backpacks and similar items are not included. Footwear does not include cleats and items worn in conjunction with an athletic or recreational activity.
- Maryland (August 12-18) Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing and footwear ($100 or less per item), including sweaters, shirts, slacks, jeans, dresses, robes, underwear, belts, shoes and boots priced at $100 or less. Accessories, including jewelry, watches, watchbands, handbags, handkerchiefs, umbrellas, scarves, ties, headbands and belt buckles will remain taxable, as will special clothing or footwear designed primarily for protective use and not for normal wear, such as football pads. In 2017, the first $40 of a backpack or bookbag purchase is also tax-free.
- Missouri (August 3-5) Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing ($100 or less per item), school supplies ($50 or less per purchase), computer software ($350 or less), personal computers or computer peripheral devices ($1,500 or less) and graphing calculators ($150 or less). Some cities have opted not to participate (check the website for specifics), although in those circumstances the state’s portion of the tax rate (4.225%) will remain exempt.
- New Mexico (August 3-5) Exemptions apply to purchases of footwear and clothing, excluding accessories ($100 or less per item); school supplies ($30 or less per item); computers ($1,000 or less per item); computer peripherals ($500 or less per item); and book bags and backpacks ($100 or less per item).
- Ohio (August 3-5) Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing ($75 or less per item). Note that the exemption applies to clothing selling for $75 or less. If an item of clothing sells for more than $75, the tax is due on the entire selling price. Exemptions also apply to school supplies ($20 or less per item) and instructional materials ($20 or less, per item).
- Oklahoma (August 3-5) Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing and footwear ($100 or less per item). The exemption does not apply to the sale of any accessories, special clothing or footwear primarily designed for athletic activity or protective use that is not normally worn except when used for athletic activity or protective use, or to the rental of clothing or footwear. Qualified items are exempt from state, city, county and local municipality sales taxes.
- South Carolina (August 3-5) Exemptions apply to a variety of back-to-school essentials, from clothing, accessories, and shoes to school supplies, backpacks, and computers. Shoppers will also find tax-free items for the home and dorm room.
- Tennessee (July 27-29) Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing ($100 or less per item), computers ($1,500 or less) and school and art supplies ($100 or less per item). Apparel that costs more than $100 remains taxable, as do items such as jewelry, handbags, or sports and recreational equipment.
- Texas (August 10-12) The law exempts most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced under $100 from sales and use taxes, which could save shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend.
- Virginia (August 3-5) Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing and footwear ($100 or less per item) and school supplies ($20 or less per item). Sports or recreational items are not exempt from tax. The holiday also applies to hurricane and emergency preparedness items, and Energy Star™ and WaterSense™ products.
- Wisconsin (August 1-5) Exemptions include clothing, if the sales price of any single item is $75 or less; a computer purchased by a consumer for the consumer’s personal use, if the sales price of the computer is $750 or less; school computer supplies purchased by the consumer for the consumer’s personal use, if the sales price of any single item is $250 or less; and school supplies, if the sales price of any single item is $75 or less.
The following states offered a sales tax holiday in 2017, but I have not yet been able to confirm for 2018 (dates listed are expected):
- Connecticut (August 19-25) Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing and footwear ($100 or less per item), excluding clothing accessories, protective or athletic clothing, and certain shoes including ballet, bicycle, bowling, cleats, football, golf, track, jazz, tap and turf (but note that aerobic, basketball, boat and running shoes are exempt).
Keep in mind that some states have no statewide sales tax (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon) while others (like Pennsylvania and Vermont) already exempt some necessities like clothing. Still, others offer special exemptions for hurricane supplies, Energy Star appliances, and other items. This list is meant to provide general guidelines for state sales tax holidays. Some states are pretty specific about what you can exempt so be sure to click on the links to your individual state’s revenue announcement for more details. Also keep in mind that some states offer counties and towns the option not to participate, so again, check with your state if you have questions.
I’ll continue to update the list as information is made available (feel free to reach out to me with changes or updates that you notice). Happy shopping!