Welcome to back-to-school shopping season, or as folks in the tax world know it, the annual round of state sales tax holidays.
Every year, some states designate certain items as tax-exempt for a short time. Typically, the tax-free purchases are connected to clothing and school supplies, which in some cases also means computers.
Retailers have mixed feelings about the tax holidays. It’s more administrative work for them, but it usually gets more shoppers into their stores.
For consumers, the holidays can be a good deal as long as they buy items they planned to get and don’t make additional spur-of-the-moment purchases.
But the devil is definitely in the details. Each of the tax holidays has specific rules covering such things as rain checks, layaway purchases and coupons.
Also, make sure you get your state’s holiday dates right. Some tax-free shopping events are for only a few days, while others run for a week or more.
The following table provides an overview of the 17 states holding sales tax holidays this year. And a couple of states will be holding additional no-tax events in the fall. Check back at Bankrate for those details as the dates draw nearer.
|State||Tax holiday dates||Tax-exemption items and price limits (unless noted, limits are cost per item)||Notable holiday rules, exceptions|
|Alabama||Aug. 6 through Aug. 8||School supplies, $50 or less.||Alabama cities and counties have the choice to opt out of the holiday.|
|Books, $30 or less.|
|Computers and software, $750 or less.|
|Clothing, $100 or less.|
|Connecticut||Aug. 15 through Aug. 21||Clothing and footwear, $300 or less.||The sales tax break also applies to qualifying purchases made via mail, telephone or over the Internet as long as it is fully paid for during the holiday week.|
|Florida||Aug. 13 through Aug. 15||Clothing, footwear and accessories, $50 or less.||Eligible items purchased during the holiday with a gift certificate qualify for the tax exemption, regardless of when the gift certificate was purchased.|
|Books, $50 or less.|
|School supplies, $10 or less.|
|Illinois||Aug. 6 through Aug. 15||Clothing and footwear, $100 or less.||Qualifying items purchased after the state sales tax holiday with rain checks issued during the holiday are not eligible for the tax-free treatment.|
|School supplies, no limit.|
|Iowa||Aug. 6 through Aug. 7||Clothing and footwear, $100 or less.||The holiday is effective Friday and Saturday only. Sales tax will be collected on any weekend sales made on Sunday.|
|Louisiana||Aug. 6 through Aug. 7||Most purchases of tangible personal property, $2,500 or less.||Vehicles that must be licensed do not qualify for the holiday tax exemption.|
|Maryland||Aug. 8 through Aug. 14||Clothing and footwear, $100 or less.||Taxable services performed on clothing or footwear, such as alterations, remain taxable during the holiday period.|
|Massachusetts||Aug. 14 through Aug. 15||Most items that cost less than $2,500||Sales tax will continue to be collected on cars and motorized boats, but this year purchases of alcohol from liquor stores will be tax free.|
|Mississippi||July 30 through July 31||Clothing and footwear, $100 or less.||Accessories, such as jewelry, handbags, wallets, watches, backpacks and similar items, do not qualify for the tax holiday.|
|Missouri||Aug. 6 through Aug. 8||Clothing and footwear, $100 or less.||Local jurisdictions can choose to not participate in the holiday.|
|Computers and peripheral devices, $3,500 or less.|
|Computer software, $350 or less.|
|School supplies, $50 or less.|
|New Mexico||Aug. 6 through Aug. 8||Clothing and footwear, $100 or less.||Classroom materials with the $15 per unit no-tax threshold include notebooks, paper, pens, pencils, crayons, art supplies, paper clips, staples, staplers, scissors and rulers. School supplies that cost $100 or less each and are tax exempt are book bags, backpacks, handheld calculators, maps and globes.|
|Computers, $1,000 or less.|
|Computer peripheral devices, $500 or less.|
|School supplies, $15 to $100 or less depending on the type of supply.|
|North Carolina||Aug. 6 through Aug. 8||Clothing and footwear, $100 or less.||During the tax holiday, a computer includes a central processing unit, monitor, keyboard, mouse and speakers, because these items are deemed to be necessary for the computer’s operation. Those components, however, must be bought at the same time as the central processing unit in order to be tax exempt.|
|School supplies, $100 or less.|
|School instructional materials, $300 or less.|
|Sports and recreation equipment, $50 or less.|
|Computers, $3,500 or less.|
|Computer supplies, $250 or less.|
|Oklahoma||Aug. 6 through Aug. 8||Clothing and footwear, $100 or less.||Clothing or shoes primarily designed for athletic activity or protective use are fully taxable.|
|South Carolina||Aug. 6 through Aug. 8||Clothing, accessories (e.g., hats, scarves, hosiery and handbags) and footwear, no maximum.||If an item qualifies for sales-tax exemption during the holiday, then all delivery charges associated with that sale also are tax-free.|
|School supplies, no maximum.|
|Computers, printers and printer supplies, computer software, no maximum.|
|Bed linens and bath furnishings, no maximum.|
|Tennessee||Aug. 6 through Aug. 8||Clothing and footwear, $100 or less.||In addition to the state levy, eligible items also are exempt from local sales taxes during the holiday. Local governments are reimbursed by the state for lost sales tax revenues during this period.|
|School supplies, $100 or less.|
|Computers, $1,500 or less.|
|Texas||Aug. 20 through Aug. 22||Clothing and footwear, less than $100.||Backpacks with wheels are tax-free provided they can also be worn on the back like a traditional backpack. The tax-free status during the holiday does not include items that are reasonably defined as luggage, briefcases, computer bags, purses, or athletic, duffle or gym bags.|
|Backpacks, less than $100.|
|School supplies, less than $100.|
|Virginia||Aug. 6 through Aug. 8||Clothing and footwear, $100 or less.||Computers do not qualify as school supplies for sales tax holiday purposes.|
|School supplies, $20 or less.|