Many States Offer Back-to-School Sales Tax Holidays in 2013

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By Jason Bramwell
 
Did you know there are seventeen states where state sales tax charges are temporarily dropped on back-to-school items, such as clothing, footwear, classroom supplies, computers, and certain other products? 
 
Sales tax holidays timed for back-to-school shopping begin as early as July 26, with the majority held in early August, according to CCH.
 
"What's really important for consumers to know is the specific information about products that qualify for each state's holiday in order to maximize sales tax savings," Carol Kokinis-Graves, JD, CCH senior state tax analyst, said in a written statement. "Typically, several restrictions will apply, and each state usually provides official, highly detailed rules on specific items that do or do not qualify for state sales tax exemptions on designated dates."
 
Kokinis-Graves cautions that local sales taxes may still be imposed in some communities.
 
Massachusetts was the only state that discontinued its sales tax holiday in 2013. New York State does not offer a specific sales tax holiday, but items of clothing and footwear sold for less than $110 are exempt from the state's sales and use tax throughout the year.
 
Back-to-School Sales Tax Holidays by State
While some states limit the exemption to clothes and shoes, others extend exemptions to a wide range of personal items. All put dollar limits on the amount exempt from sales tax - from as little as $15 for school supplies in Florida to as much as $3,500 for computers in Missouri and North Carolina.
 
Mississippi already had its sales tax holiday on July 26 and 27, in which clothing or footwear (not accessories, rentals, skis, swim fins, or skates) with a sales price under $100 per item was exempt. 
The following sixteen states will offer sales tax holidays for back-to-school shopping within the next month.
 
Alabama: From August 2 to 4, the following are exempt:
  • Clothing (not accessories or protective or recreational equipment) with a sales price of $100 or less per item.
  • Single purchases, with a sales price of $750 or less, of computers, computer software, and school computer equipment.
  • Noncommercial purchases of school supplies, school art supplies, and school instructional materials with a sales price of $50 or less per item.
  • Noncommercial book purchases with a sales price of $30 or less per book.

Arkansas: On August 3 and 4, the following are exempt:
  • Sales of clothing items under $100.
  • Clothing accessories or equipment under $50.
  • School art supplies, school instructional materials, and school supplies.

Connecticut: From August 18 to 24:
  • Clothing and footwear costing less than $300 per item are exempt.

Not included are athletic or protective clothing or footwear, jewelry, handbags, luggage, umbrellas, wallets, watches, and similar items.
 
Florida: From August 2 to 4, the following are exempt:
  • Clothing with a sales price of $75 or less per item.
  • School supplies with a sales price of $15 or less per item.
  • Personal computers and related accessories with a sales price of $750 or less purchased for noncommercial use.

The holiday exemption does not apply to sales of such items made within a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishment, or airport.
 
Georgia: On August 9 and 10, the following are exempt:
  • Clothing and footwear with a sales price of $100 or less per article or pair, excluding accessories.
  • Single purchases for noncommercial use of $1,000 or less of personal computers and related accessories.
  • General school supplies priced at up to $20 per item.

Iowa: On August 2 and 3:
  • Clothing and footwear with a sales price of less than $100 per item are exempt.

The exemption does not include any special clothing or footwear that is primarily designed for athletic activity or protective use and not normally worn except when used for the athletic activity or protective use for which it is designed. The exemption also excludes accessories or the rental of any clothing or footwear.
 
Louisiana: On August 2 and 3:
  • The first $2,500 of the sales price of noncommercial purchases (not leases) of items of tangible personal property (not vehicles or meals) is exempt.

Although the holiday exemption does not apply to local taxes, St. Charles Parish will waive its local sales tax during the same weekend as the state holiday.
Maryland: From August 11 to 17:
  • Items of clothing and footwear with a taxable price of $100 or less are exempt. Accessories are not included.
 
Missouri: From August 2 to 4, the following items are exempt:
  • Noncommercial purchases of clothing (but not accessories) with a taxable value of $100 or less per item.
  • School supplies up to $50 per purchase.
  • Computer software with a taxable value of $350 or less.
  • Computers and computer peripherals up to $3,500.

Localities may opt out. The tax holiday does not apply to any retailer when less than 2 percent of its merchandise offered for sale qualifies for the holiday. In such a case, the retailer must offer a sales tax refund in lieu of the holiday.
 
New Mexico: From August 2 to 4, the following are exempt:
  • Footwear and clothing (not accessories or athletic or protective clothing) with a sales price of less than $100 per item.
  • School supplies with a sales price of less than $30 per item.
  • Computers with a sales price of $1,000 or less per item.
  • Computer peripherals with a sales price of $500 or less per item.
  • Book bags, backpacks, maps, and globes with a sales price of less than $100 per item.
  • Handheld calculators with a sales price of less than $200 per item.

Retailers are not required to participate.
 
North Carolina: From August 2 to 4, the following are exempt:
  • Clothing and school supplies with a sales price of $100 or less per item.
  • School instructional materials with a sales price of $300 or less per item. Sport/recreational equipment with a sales price of $50 or less per item.
  • Computers with a sales price of $3,500 or less.
  • Computer supplies with a sales price of $250 or less per item. 

The exemption does not apply to clothing accessories, any item sold for use in a trade or business, educational software, furniture, luggage, stereo equipment, DVD players and similar equipment, and protective equipment.
 
Oklahoma: From August 2 to 4:
  • Items of clothing and footwear with a sales price of less than $100 are exempt.

The holiday does not apply to the rental of clothing or footwear, the sale of special clothing or footwear primarily designed for athletic or protective use, or the sale of accessories.
South Carolina: From August 2 to 4, the following are exempt:
  • Clothing (but not rentals), clothing accessories, footwear, school supplies, computers, printers, printer supplies, and computer software.
  • Bath wash clothes, bed linens, pillows, bath towels, shower curtains, and bath rugs. 
  • Tennessee: From August 2 to 4:
  • Clothing (but not accessories), school supplies, and school art supplies with a sales price of $100 or less per item.
  • Computers with a sales price of $1,500 or less per item.

Texas: From August 9 to 11:
  • Clothing, footwear, and school backpacks with a sales price of less than $100 per item are exempt.

The exemption does not include accessories, athletic or protective clothing, or rentals.
 
Virginia: From August 2 to 4, the following are exempt:
  • Clothing and footwear with a sales price of $100 or less per item.
  • School supplies with a sales price of $20 or less per item.

Tax Holidays for Energy Efficiency and Hurricane Preparation Items
In addition to holidays timed for back-to-school buying, a number of states have enacted tax holidays offered at various times throughout the year to promote other kinds of purchases. Energy efficiency is the most common theme. The following three states offer upcoming tax holidays for energy- and water-efficiency purchases.
 
Georgia: From October 4 to 6, energy- and water-efficient products purchased for noncommercial use with a sales price of $1,500 or less per product are exempt.
 
North Carolina: From November 1 to 3, qualified Energy Star products sold for nonbusiness use, including clothes washers, freezers, and refrigerators; central and room air conditioners; air-source heat pumps; ceiling fans; dehumidifiers; and programmable thermostats, are exempt.
 
Virginia: From October 11 to 14, noncommercial purchases of Energy Star- and WaterSense-qualified products with a sales price of $2,500 or less per item are exempt.
 
Maryland, Missouri, and Texas held energy-efficiency tax holidays in February, April, and May, respectively. Alabama held its sales tax holiday for hurricane preparedness items in February. Louisiana and Virginia held similar sales tax holidays in May.
 
Firearms Sales Tax Holidays
Louisiana remains the only state that offers a sales tax holiday for noncommercial purchases of firearms, ammunition, and hunting supplies. From September 6 to 8, such purchases (but not the purchase of animals for the use of hunting) are exempt.
 
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