In 16 states, tax holidays for back-to-school shoppers

Consumer Reports News: July 27, 2010 04:48 PM

Don't tell the kids, but it's time to start thinking about back-to-school shopping, particularly if you want to take advantage of state sales-tax holidays. According to CCH Wolters Kluwer, a publisher of financial information, three states—Florida, Illinois and Maryland—have added school-related sales-tax holidays this year. That brings to 16 the number of states offering such breaks to consumers. Those holidays start as early as this Friday, Juy 30.

Here's a breakdown of what's available, courtesy of Carol Kokinis-Graves, CCH Senior State Tax Analyst:

• Alabama: On Aug. 6-8, the following are exempt: clothing 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 sales price of $50 or less per item; noncommercial book purchases with sales price of $30 or less per book are exempt from tax. Does not include clothing accessories or protective or recreational equipment.

• Connecticut: On Aug. 15-21, clothing and footwear costing less than $300 per item are exempt. Does not include accessories or athletic or protective clothing.

• Florida: On Aug. 13-15, the following are exempt: books, clothing, wallets or bags (including handbags, backpacks, fanny packs and diaper bags) with a sales price of $50 or less per item; and school supplies with a sales price of $10 or less per item. Excludes briefcase, suitcases and other garment bags. Also does not apply to sales made within a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishment or airport.

• Illinois: On Aug. 6-15, footwear and clothing with a sales price of less than $100 per item and school supplies will be exempt.

• Iowa: On Aug. 6-7, clothing and footwear with sales price of less than $100 per item are exempt. Does not include accessories, rentals, athletic or protective clothing.

• Louisiana: On Aug. 6-7, the first $2,500 of sales price of noncommercial purchases (not leases) of items of tangible personal property (not vehicles or meals) is exempt. Does not apply to local taxes (may be allowed in St. Charles Parish).

• Maryland: On Aug. 8-14, clothing and footwear with a taxable price of $100 or less per item will be exempt. Does not include accessories.

• Mississippi: On July 30-31, clothing and footwear with sales price under $100 per item are exempt. Does not include accessories, rentals, skis, swim fins or skates.

• Missouri: On Aug. 6-8, noncommercial purchases of clothing (but not accessories) with taxable value of $100 or less per item; school supplies up to $50 per purchase; computer software with taxable value of $350 or less; computers and computer peripherals up to $3,500 are exempt. Localities may opt out. If less than two percent of a retailer’s merchandise qualifies, the retailer must offer a refund of sales tax paid if the customer requests one, in lieu of the tax holiday.

• New Mexico: On Aug. 6-8, footwear and clothing with sales price of less than $100 per item; school supplies; computers with sales price of $1,000 or less per item; and computer peripherals with sales price of $500 or less per item are exempt. Retailers are not required to participate. Does not include accessories, athletic or protective clothing.

• North Carolina: On Aug. 6-8, clothing and school supplies with sales price of $100 or less per item; school instructional materials with sales price of $300 or less per item; sport/recreational equipment with sales price of $50 or less per item; computers with sales price of $3,500 or less; and computer supplies with sales price of $250 or less per item are exempt. Does not include clothing accessories or protective equipment.

• Oklahoma: On Aug. 6-8, clothing and footwear with sales price of less than $100 are exempt. Does not include accessories, athletic or protective clothing or rentals.

• South Carolina: On Aug. 6-8, 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.

• Tennessee: On Aug. 6-8, clothing (but not accessories), school supplies and school art supplies with sales price of $100 or less per item and computers with sales price of $1,500 or less per item are exempt.

• Texas: On Aug. 20-22, clothing, footwear and school backpacks with sales price of less than $100 per item are exempt. Does not include accessories, athletic or protective clothing or rentals.

• Virginia: On Aug. 6-8, clothing and footwear with a selling price of $100 or less per item; and school supplies with a selling price of $20 or less per item are exempt.

Two states that had held earlier tax holidays—Georgia in the summer of 2009 and Vermont in March 2010—did not enact state tax holidays for back-to-school purchases this summer. CCH's Web site provides a list of other state tax holidays, including breaks for hurricane-preparedness supplies, products that promote energy efficiency, and firearms.


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