School supplies aren’t cheap.
The National Retail Federation projects that U.S. families will spend an average of $669 on back-to-school items like clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics, up 5 percent from $635 last year. If you’re looking to get a bigger bang for your buck on school items, back-to-school sales tax holidays are a great time to shop.
A number of states offer tax-free weekends during the back-to-school shopping period, where select items – typically clothing, footwear and school supplies – can be purchased tax-free. The back-to-school shopping period is the second-largest selling season of the year, according to Today.
“Sales tax holidays are very, very popular with consumers and very successful at getting consumers into stores and getting them to spend money,” said J. Craig Shearman, vice president of government affairs public relations at the National Retail Federation.
The impact goes far beyond money, Shearman said. If a retailer were to offer 5 percent off a purchase, consumers — who are used to seeing double-digit discounts in store windows — would laugh. But because the discount relates to not paying a sales tax, it has a psychological appeal, he said.
Each state has its own criteria for qualifying purchases, as well as maximum purchase limits, so make sure you click on your state’s link below to find specific information for your state before you shop.
These states are holding back-to-school tax-free weekends:
- Alabama, Aug. 1-3
- Arkansas, Aug. 2-3
- Connecticut, Aug. 17-23
- Florida, Aug. 1-3
- Georgia, Aug. 1-2
- Iowa, Aug. 1-2
- Louisiana, Aug. 1-2
- Massachusetts, Aug. 9-10 or Aug. 16-17. According to the Eagle Tribune, Massachusetts lawmakers approved a sales-tax-free weekend, but have yet to agree on a date.
- Maryland, Aug. 10-16
- Mississippi, July 25-26
- Missouri, Aug. 1-3
- New Mexico, Aug. 1-3
- Oklahoma, Aug. 1-3
- South Carolina, Aug. 2-4
- Tennessee, Aug. 1-3
- Texas, Aug. 8-10
- Virginia, Aug. 1-3
I’m lucky to live in Montana, where every shopping trip is sales tax free. Montana is one of a handful of states that has no sales tax.
Do you take advantage of tax-free weekends? What kind of savings have you experienced? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.