Is There a School Supply Tax Holiday in Your State?

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As summer comes to a close, families are forced to think about school supply shopping. This year, inflation has driven school supply costs up, with Deloitte estimating that parents expect to spend ​$661​ per child on average. If yours is among the ​14​ states with sales tax holidays, you will find a tax break on school supplies for a limited time each year, but the items that qualify differ by state.

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What Are Tax Holidays?

Taxes on purchases can add up, boosting the price of your purchases. Sales tax rates range from ​1.76 percent​ in Alaska to ​9.55 percent​ in Louisiana. On a ​$661​ purchase, that means you'll pay ​$11.63​ to ​$63.13​ in taxes alone. If you have more than one child, this can add up even more.

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In some states, legislators have created a tax holiday, often billed as a tax-free weekend, planned to coincide with the start of the school year. Parents get a break that weekend and retailers see a surge in business. When a state's businesses do well, the economy of that state as a whole stays strong, which benefits everyone.

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Which States Offer Tax Holidays?

Many states have some form of sales tax holiday, but only ​14​ offer a tax-free weekend for back-to-school shopping. Each state limits sales tax breaks to certain items.

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  • Alabama: Clothing priced up to ​$100​, computers up to ​$750​ and supplies up to $​50​. Mid-July.
  • Arkansas: Clothing and certain accessories up to ​$50​ and qualifying equipment and school supplies. Early August.
  • Florida: Learning aids and jigsaw puzzles up to ​$30​, most school supplies up to ​$50​, clothing up to ​$100​ and computers and accessories up to ​$1,500​. Late July through early August.
  • Massachusetts: All personal use items are tax-exempt for one weekend in mid-August.
  • Mississippi: Clothing and school supplies up to ​$100​. Late July.
  • Missouri: Clothing up to ​$100​, school supplies up to ​$50​, computers up to ​$1,500​. Early August.
  • New Jersey: Qualifying school supplies, computers up to ​$3,000​ and sports and recreational equipment. Late August through early September.
  • New Mexico: Clothing up to ​$100​, computers up to ​$1,000​ and school supplies up to ​$30​. Early August.
  • Ohio: Clothing up to ​$75​ and school supplies up to ​$20​. Early August.
  • South Carolina: Qualifying school supplies, computers and clothing. Early August.
  • Tennessee: Clothing up to ​$100​, school supplies up to ​$100​ and computers up to ​$1,500​. Late July.
  • Texas: Clothing up to ​$100​ and school supplies up to ​$100​, including backpacks. Early August.
  • Virginia: Clothing up to ​$100​ and school supplies up to ​$20​. Early August.
  • West Virginia: Clothing up to $125, school supplies up to ​$50​ and computers up to ​$500​. Early August.

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If you live in Illinois, there's no tax-free weekend, but you can enjoy a reduced sales tax rate as low as ​1.25 percent​ on clothing up to ​$125​ and back-to-school supplies. Iowa, Maryland, Oklahoma and Puerto Rico also have sales tax breaks on clothing during back-to-school sales.

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In some states, legislators have created a tax holiday, often billed as a tax-free weekend, planned to coincide with the start of the school year.

Saving Money With Sales Tax

Whether or not your state department of revenue offers a school sales tax holiday, the weeks leading up to the start of school are a great time to shop. You'll find stores offering competitive rates on personal computers, instructional materials, sports equipment, art supplies, book bags and computer software. It's also a great time to go clothing shopping, since clothing and clothing accessories, handbags and wallets typically go on sale.

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In addition to tax exemptions and special sales, some retailers offer student discounts that can help you save. Target, Apple, Amazon, Dell and many others offer savings for students. Check with each retailer to see if you qualify.

If your state offers a tax-free weekend, it's important to note that you don't have to be a student to take advantage. You can buy clothing, computer equipment and supplies for business or personal use if they fall under the approved items. Retailer-specific student discounts will typically require a student ID, but state sales tax holidays apply to all residents.

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