Tax-Free shopping

Unless you live in a state with no sales tax like Oregon or Delaware, you’ve probably gotten accustomed to calculating that extra eight percent or so onto every purchase that isn’t food from the grocery or convenience store. Particularly for parents doing back-to-school shopping, or students ordering new computers and peripherals for the upcoming year, the extra dollars and cents can add up quickly and make a dent in your budget.

However, even if you don’t have the time or means to make your way to a neighboring sales tax-free state, you may still have an opportunity to avoid paying taxes on certain items if your timing is just right.

Each year, several states elect to offer tax-free shopping days, most of which take place over a weekend at the end of summer or just before the school year begins. As the name implies, during a tax-free period, consumers don’t have to pay sales tax on certain items. In participating states, stores can choose whether or not to participate, so you will want to double check the ones that do in your area before heading out (or online) with your shopping list. Most who do will advertise as such.

In some areas, like the southeast United States, tax-free days apply to items like emergency hurricane-preparedness supplies and are intended to help residents prepare themselves for hurricane season. A handful of states also offer tax-free days on firearms. But for the vast majority, the primary intention of the tax-free day(s) is to allow consumers to save a few bucks on back-to-school supplies, so it’s especially beneficial for students and parents of matriculating students. However, the opportunity to save is open to anyone.

Back to school shopping

Below is a list of states offering tax-free days in 2016, as well as some of the types of items that qualify for the tax reduction. Almost all states have a limit on how much you can spend on these items while still receiving the tax-free benefit. These limits are also listed where applicable.

  • Alabama’s tax-free weekend is the first weekend in August and includes clothing (up to $100), school supplies (up to $50), books (up to $30), and computers (up to $750).
  • Arkansas’ is also the first weekend in August and includes clothing (up to $100), school supplies (no limit), and clothing accessories and equipment (up to $50).
  • Connecticut residents can purchase clothing and footwear (up to $300) tax-free for a full seven days, the third week in August.
  • Florida residents can purchase clothing (up to $100), school supplies (up to $15), and computers (up to $750) tax-free for three days during the second week of August.
  • Georgia’s tax-free weekend is the first weekend of August and includes clothing (up to $100), school supplies (up to $20), and computers (up to $1,000).
  • Iowa’s is the first weekend in August and is applicable to clothing (up to $100).
  • Louisiana residents can shop for all tangible personal property (up to $2,500) while paying half of the regular sales tax the first weekend in August. This means a reduction from a six percent sales tax to three percent. After 2019, the state is slated to make the weekend and subsequent tax holidays completely tax-free.
  • Massachusetts residents since 2009 have been able to purchase clothing items tax-free the second weekend in August. In 2016, however, the tax holiday was cancelled as lawmakers contended it would be too great of a blow to the state’s suffering budget.
  • Mississippi’s tax-free weekend is the last weekend in July, and residents can purchase clothing and footwear tax-free (up to $100 per item).
  • Maryland residents can purchase clothing and footwear (up to $100) tax-free August 14-20.
  • Missouri’s tax-free weekend is the first weekend in August and includes clothing (up to $100), school supplies (up to $50), and computers (up to $3,500).
  • New Mexico’s is also the first weekend in August and includes clothing (up to $100), school supplies (up to $30), and computers (up to $1,000), as well as computer equipment (up to $500).
  • Ohio residents can purchase school supplies and school instruction materials tax-free the first weekend in August.
  • Oklahoma residents can purchase clothing (up to $100) and school supplies tax-free the first weekend in August.
  • South Carolina’s tax-free weekend is the first weekend in August and includes clothing, school supplies, and computers, as well as bed and bath items.
  • Tennessee’s is the first weekend in August and includes clothing (up to $100), school supplies (up to $100), and computers (up to $1,500).
  • Texas’ is the first weekend in August and includes clothing, backpacks, and school supplies (all up to $100 total).
  • Virginia has a few tax-free days throughout the year, but the first weekend in August is geared specifically toward back-to-school shopping with clothing (up to $100) and school supplies (up to $20) tax-free.

As may be the case if you visit a year-round sales tax-free state like Oregon or Delaware, if you’re a resident of a non-participating state and you purchase tax-free goods, you may still have to pay a use tax on those items when you return home.

Woman putting coin into jar

Once you’ve determined if and when your state of residence has a tax-free day or days, you can log onto Ebates.com to score some additional deals and Cash Back and reap even more savings benefits at stores like Old Navy, Amazon, and Target.

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