How Does It Work?
There are currently 17 states offering sales tax holidays – where state sales tax charges are temporarily dropped on back-to-school items such as clothing, footwear, classroom supplies, computers and certain other products. However, local sales taxes may still be imposed in some communities.
"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," said Carol Kokinis-Graves, JD, CCH Senior State Tax Analyst. "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."
Back-to-school Tax Holidays for 2013
Sales tax holidays timed for back-to-school shopping begin as early as July 26 and many take place in early August. While some limit the exemption to clothes and shoes, others extend exemptions to a wide range of personal items. All place 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
Alabama: On Aug. 2-4, 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, 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; and noncommercial book purchases with a sales price of $30 or less per book.
Missouri: On August 2-4 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; and computers and computer peripherals up to $3,500. Localities may opt out. The tax holiday does not apply to any retailer when less than two percent of their 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: On August 2-4, 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 less than $100 per item; and handheld calculators with a sales price of less than $200 per item. Retailers are not required to participate.
North Carolina: On August 2-4, 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; and 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.
South Carolina: On Aug, 2-4, clothing (but not rentals), clothing accessories, footwear, school supplies, computers, printers, printer supplies, computer software, bath wash clothes, bed linens, pillows, bath towels, shower curtains and bath rugs are exempt.
Tax Holidays for Energy-efficiency, Hurricane Prep 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 and the three states with upcoming tax holidays for energy and water-efficiency purchases include:
Maryland, Missouri and
Firearms Sales Tax Holidays
Louisiana remains the only state that offers a state tax holiday for noncommercial purchases of firearms, ammunition and hunting supplies. From Sept. 6-8 in
About Carol Kokinis-Graves, CCH State Sales Tax Expert
Carol Kokinis-Graves is an attorney and a CCH Senior State Tax Analyst specializing in the analysis and reporting of issues regarding state and local sales and use taxes. Kokinis-Graves has written several state and local tax articles, including those that have appeared in State Tax Review, The Journal of State Taxation and Practitioner Perspectives, has been quoted in various publications, and is a speaker on state and local tax issues.
Members of the press interested in speaking with Carol Kokinis-Graves should contact: Brenda Au at 847-267-2046, firstname.lastname@example.org or Eric Scott at 847-267-2179, email@example.com.
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