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Special section Save on back-to-school shopping

Find out if your state offers tax breaks on back-to-school shopping and what the rules are for the discount.

2009 tax holiday schedule

2009 tax holiday schedule

Fifteen states are offering shoppers back-to-school sales tax holidays this year. The participating jurisdictions are listed below alphabetically.

Most of the tax-exempt shopping sessions fall in early August. But be sure to carefully schedule your shopping trip or you could miss out on the savings. Georgia's event starts on a Thursday instead of the usual Friday; Connecticut and Texas shoppers have to wait until later in the month for their tax bargains. And some of the holidays come up a bit short, such as the events in Iowa and Louisiana that end at midnight Saturday instead of running through the end of the weekend.

Back-to-school tax holiday schedule

Also, do your homework before you shop. Some items you give the clerk to ring up might not save you any sales tax dollars. And the tax-free or still-taxable designations aren't always logical.

Participating states have detailed and sometimes seemingly contradictory lists of sales-tax-exempt items and those on which stores will still tally tax. Check them out before hitting the mall.


  • Tax holiday dates: Aug. 7 to Aug. 9
  • General exempt items: During the first weekend of each August, Alabama shoppers will be spared paying state sales tax on clothing costing less than $100, as well as on school supplies selling for up to $50 each and books that cost up to $30. Computers and software are also tax-exempt as long as their costs do not exceed $750.
  • Notable exceptions: While the state sales tax will not be collected this weekend, cities and counties have the choice to opt out of the holiday. The state has compiled a table showing which local jurisdictions are participating.

More information is available on Alabama's sales tax holiday Web site.


  • Tax holiday dates: Aug. 16 to Aug. 22
  • General exempt items: Clothing and footwear costing less than $300 per item are free from sales and use taxes during this week. Layaway purchases also qualify, as long the customer puts the qualifying clothing or footwear on layaway during the tax-exclusion week; none of the subsequent payments, even if made after the sales tax holiday ends, are taxable. Rented clothing, such as formal wear, also is exempt, as long as it does not exceed $300 and the customer takes possession of the clothing during the tax holiday week.
  • Notable exceptions: Be careful when time-shifting purchases. If you place a tax-exempt article on layaway during the tax holiday week, none of your payments on the item are taxable even if they are made after the holiday ends. But if you get a rain check for a tax-exempt eligible item that is unavailable during the holiday week and you redeem it after the tax holiday ends, the item is taxable.

More information is available on Connecticut's sales tax holiday Web site.

-- Updated: July 21, 2009
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