The cost of back-to-school shopping is going up by roughly 8% this year, but you could offset that cost by purchasing school supplies during “sales tax holidays” in the next few days. Seventeen states are temporarily exempting school supplies from sales tax this year, for savings worth up to 10% on purchases. Here’s what you need to know.
Sales tax holidays can apply to more than school supplies
Every year before the school year, some states give consumers a tax break on clothing, pens, notebooks, and other common school supplies, and sometimes computers, too. In a few states, even purchases on disaster preparedness are also exempted from sales tax, for items like generators, plastic sheets, flashlights, and fuel tanks.
Sales tax holiday policies vary by state
These exemptions typically fall on Aug. 6-8, although the window for some states (Tennessee, West Virginia) has already passed. For the most part, the tax break applies to both state and local taxes, but some states allow local governments to opt out of the holiday.
Just make sure you check your state’s specific rules for what counts as “school supplies,” as they can be specific and will vary across states.
When is your state’s sales tax holiday?
You can check details for your state by clicking on the link for each one in this list from CPA Practice Advisor:
- Arkansas back-to-school sales tax holiday, Aug. 7–8
- Connecticut clothing and footwear sales tax holiday, Aug. 15–21
- Florida back-to-school sales tax holiday, July 31–Aug. 9
- Iowa clothing and footwear sales tax holiday, Aug. 6–7
- Maryland Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week, Aug. 8–14
- Massachusetts sales tax holiday, Aug. 14–15
- Mississippi Second Amendment Weekend, Aug. 27–29
- Missouri back-to-school sales tax holiday, Aug. 6–8
- New Mexico back-to-school sales tax holiday, Aug. 6–8
- Ohio sales tax holiday, Aug. 6–8
- Oklahoma annual sales tax holiday, Aug. 6–8
- South Carolina annual sales tax holiday, Aug. 6–8
- Texas annual sales tax holiday, Aug. 6–8
- Virginia annual sales tax holiday, Aug. 6–8
Also check out this Lifehacker post that covers all the ways you can school supplies for free. And even if you miss your tax holiday this year, just make sure to set a recurring calendar reminder to make sure you plan accordingly for years to come.