Back-to-School Sales Tax Holidays: 16 States Are Giving Families Tax Breaks

Millions of American families with children who are school- or college-bound will have the chance to save a few dollars this summer.

Sixteen states are holding sales tax holidays to help get them ready for the upcoming school year and the savings, which are usually on clothes and school supplies, are open to all.

Alabama's holiday is first, with a three-day holiday kicking off Friday. Mississippi and Tennessee hold their holidays later in July but the bulk of the holidays are set for the beginning of August.

While many consumers are expected to take advantage of the savings, the Tax Foundation found that sales tax holidays "do not promote economic growth or significantly increase consumer purchases ... they simply shift the timing of purchases."

Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon don't need a sales tax holiday to help get ready for the new school year. Those states don't have a sales tax, according to the Tax Foundation.

In some states including Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, most clothing is tax-free year-round.

Sales tax holidays

Not every town and county are participating in the sales tax holidays, nor will every item be tax-free. Online shopping also is exempt from tax during the days.

Alabama

Dates: Friday through Sunday

What’s tax-free:

  • Clothing and footwear: $100 or less
  • Technology: Single purchases $750 or less of computers, computer software and school computer supplies
  • School supplies: $50 or less
  • Books: $30 or less

Full list:www.revenue.alabama.gov/sales-use/sales-tax-holidays

Arkansas

Dates: Aug. 3-4

What’s tax-free:

  • Clothing and footwear: Less than $100
  • Clothing accessory or equipment: Less than $50
  • Select school supplies, school art supplies and instructional materials: No limit

Full list:www.dfa.arkansas.gov

Connecticut

Dates: Aug. 18-24

What’s tax-free: 

  • Clothing and footwear: Less than $100

Full list:www.ct.gov/drs

Florida

Dates: Aug. 2-6

What's tax free:

  • Clothing, footwear and accessories: $60 or less
  • School supplies: $15 or less
  • Computers and accessories: $1,000 or less per item

Full list:www.floridarevenue.com/backtoschool

Iowa

Dates: Aug. 2-3

What’s tax-free:

  • Clothing and footwear:Less than $100

Full list: https://tax.iowa.gov/iowas-annual-sales-tax-holiday

Maryland

Dates: Aug. 11-17

What's tax-free:

  • Clothing and footwear: $100 or less
  • Backpacks: The first $40 is tax-exempt

Full list:https://taxes.marylandtaxes.gov

Massachusetts

Dates: Aug. 17-18

What’s tax-free: Almost everything that costs up to $2,500. In Massachusetts, there is no sales tax on clothes under $175 year round.

More information: www.mass.gov

Mississippi

Dates: July 26-27

What's tax-free:

  • Clothing, footwear and school supplies: Less than $100 per item

Full list: www.dor.ms.gov

Missouri

Dates: Aug. 2-4

What’s tax-free:

  • Clothing: Up to $100
  • School supplies: Not to exceed $50 per purchase
  • Computer software: Up to $350
  • Personal computers: Up to $1,500
  • Graphing calculators: Up to $150

Full list: https://dor.mo.gov/business/sales/taxholiday/school

New Mexico

Dates: Aug. 2-4

What’s tax-free:

  • Clothing and footwear: Less than $100
  • Computers: $1,000 or less
  • Computer-related items: Up to $500
  • School supplies: Less than $30

Full list: www.tax.newmexico.gov

Ohio

Dates: Aug. 2-4

What’s tax-free:

  • Clothing: $75 or less
  • School supplies and instructional materials: $20 or less

Full list: www.tax.ohio.gov

Oklahoma

Dates: Aug. 2-4

What’s tax-free: 

  • Clothing and footwear: Less than $100

Full list:www.ok.gov/tax

South Carolina

Dates: Aug. 2-4

What’s tax-free: 

  • Clothing: No limit
  • School supplies: No limit
  • Computers: No limit
  • Books and musical instruments: Tax-free if they are for school assignments
  • Bed and bath: No limit, includes blankets, bed spreads, bed linens, towels, etc.

Full list: https://dor.sc.gov/taxfreeweekend

Tennessee

Dates: July 26-28

What’s tax-free: 

  • Clothing: $100 or less
  • School supplies: $100 or less
  • Computers: $1,500 or less

Full list: www.tn.gov/revenue/taxes/sales-and-use-tax/sales-tax-holiday

Texas

Dates: Aug. 9-11

What’s tax-free: 

  • Clothing and footwear: Less than $100
  • School supplies and backpacks: Less than $100

Full list: https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes

Virginia

Dates: Aug. 2-4

What’s tax-free: 

  • Clothing and footwear: $100 or less
  • School supplies: $20 or less
  • Hurricane and emergency preparedness products: Portable generators up to $1,000; gas-powered chainsaws $350 or less; other specified hurricane preparedness items, $60 or less per item. 
  • Energy Star and WaterSense products: $2,500 or less per item

Full list: www.tax.virginia.gov/virginia-sales-tax-holiday

Jeff Haber

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