Take Advantage of Tax-Free Weekend Sales

Sales tax holidays date back to 1980 when Ohio and Michigan offered residents a one-time chance to skip sales tax on automobile purchases, according to the nonprofit Tax Foundation. However, in recent years, they have become an annual event in more than a dozen states.

During a sales tax holiday, a state encourages consumer spending by allowing tax-free purchases of certain items such as school supplies, computer equipment, clothing and footwear, and sometimes energy-efficient home appliances and severe-weather preparedness items, according to the Sales Tax Institute. The institute notes that there is often a threshold on the dollar amount for qualified items.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to make sure we have enough items at home to last us for a while,” says Howard Dvorkin, certified public accountant and chairman of personal finance site Debt.com. That advice isn’t limited to pantry items either. “If your old personal computer kept crashing and it was … a major problem during Zoom meetings, this is the time to get a new one.”

[Read: The 2021 Child Tax Credit: Why Some Families Are Opting Out.]

Tax-free shopping is especially popular in the South, according to Sara Skirboll, a shopping and trends expert with coupon and savings site RetailMeNot. When it comes to back-to-school shopping, data from the website indicates 56% of parents buy items mostly in stores, and electronics, shoes and clothing make up half of shoppers’ spending. Customers should expect to see plenty of sales on these items during tax holidays, Skirboll says.

Here are the 17 states offering back-to-school tax-free days in 2021:

Alabama

Arkansas

Connecticut

Florida

Iowa

Maryland

Massachusetts

Mississippi

Missouri

New Mexico

Ohio

Oklahoma

South Carolina

Tennessee

Texas

Virginia

West Virginia

Keep reading for a closer look at what is included in each sales tax holiday.

Alabama

Dates: July 16 to July 18

What items are eligible? Alabama’s summer sales tax holiday exempts the following from sales tax: clothing purchases of less than $100 per article, computers and computer software in a single purchase of $750 or less, school supplies of $50 or less per item and books costing $30 or less. Visit the Alabama Department of Revenue for a reference sheet of exempt items.

Arkansas

Dates: Aug. 7 to Aug. 8

What items are eligible? Tax-free items include clothing less than $100 per item, clothing accessories less than $50 per item, electronic devices commonly used by students in the course of their studies, and school supplies, according to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Connecticut

Dates: Aug. 15 to Aug. 21

What items are eligible? Connecticut shoppers get an entire week to buy clothing and footwear tax-free. Individual items must be less than $100 each to qualify, according to the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services.

Florida

Dates: July 31 to Aug. 9

What items are eligible? The 2021 back-to-school sales tax holiday covers clothing, footwear and accessories selling for less than $60 per item, certain school supplies selling for less than $15 per item and up to $1,000 of the purchase of personal computers and computer accessories, according to the Florida Department of Revenue.

Iowa

Dates: Aug. 6 to Aug. 7

What items are eligible? The tax-free days offer deals on clothing and footwear selling for less than $100 per item, according to the Iowa Department of Revenue.

Maryland

Dates: Aug. 8 to Aug. 14

What items are eligible? Maryland is another state that gives residents a full week of tax-free shopping. Eligible items include apparel and footwear selling for less than $100 per item and the first $40 of backpack or book bag sales. More information about the Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week can be found on the Comptroller of Maryland website.

[Read: The Best Days to Shop in 2021.]

Massachusetts

Dates: Aug. 14 to Aug. 15

What items are eligible? There are few restrictions for the Massachusetts sales tax holiday. Almost all personal purchases of items of $2,500 or less qualify for the sale tax exemption. There are only a handful of exceptions such as motor vehicles, motorboats, marijuana products, meals and alcohol, according to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Mississippi

Dates: July 30 to July 31

What items are eligible? Mississippi maintains a sales tax holiday each summer to exempt from sales tax purchases of clothing, footwear and school supplies that are selling for less than $100 apiece. The Mississippi Department of Revenue also offers a Second Amendment tax holiday from Aug. 27-29 in which sales tax is not applied to purchases of firearms, ammunition and hunting supplies.

Missouri

Dates: Aug. 6 to Aug. 8

What items are eligible? Tax-free shopping is available for clothing priced at less than $100 per item, personal computers and computer peripheral devices of up to $1,500 and school supplies of up to $50 per purchase. Sales of up to $150 for graphing calculators and $350 for computer software are also exempt from sales tax. However, the Missouri Department of Revenue notes that city, county and district sales tax may still apply.

New Mexico

Dates: Aug. 6 to Aug. 8

What items are eligible? The New Mexico back-to-school, tax-free holiday exempts the following from sales tax: clothing and shoes costing less than $100 per item, computers and tablets of up to $1,000, computer hardware of up to $500 and school supplies that are less than $30 each. The state’s Taxation and Revenue Department maintains a list of taxable and nontaxable items on its website.

Ohio

Dates: Aug. 6 to Aug 8

What items are eligible? Ohio’s tax-free weekend covers any item of clothing costing $75 or less, school supplies that are $20 or less and school instructional material that is $20 or less, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation.

Oklahoma

Dates: Aug. 6 to Aug. 8

What items are eligible? Clothing and footwear items priced at $100 or less are exempt from sales tax during this weekend, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

South Carolina

Dates: Aug. 6 to Aug. 8

What items are eligible? Unlike other states, South Carolina puts no price restrictions on purchases during its sales tax holiday weekend. Qualified school supplies, apparel, bed and bath items and electronics purchases may be eligible so long as they are needed for school, according to the South Carolina Department of Revenue.

Tennessee

Dates: July 30 to Aug. 1

What items are eligible? For 2021, Tennessee exempts from sales tax the following: clothing with a price of $100 or less, school supplies and school art supplies with a price of $100 or less and electronic devices, such a computers and televisions, of $1,500 or less. The Tennessee Department of Revenue also notes there is a tax-free period from July 30 to Aug. 5 for food, food ingredients and prepared food, and the state is not charging sales tax on gun safes and safety devices from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022.

Texas

Dates: Aug. 6 to Aug. 8

What items are eligible? Most purchases of clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks that cost less than $100 are exempt from sales tax during the weekend, according to the Texas Comptroller.

[See: 35 Ways to Save Money.]

Virginia

Dates: Aug. 6 to Aug. 8

What items are eligible? Virginia extends its tax-free weekend to more than school supplies. It covers clothing and footwear that costs less than $100 per item, school supplies less than $20 per item, Energy Star and WaterSense products of up to $2,500 and hurricane and emergency preparedness items. Gas-powered chainsaws of up to $350, chainsaw accessories and other emergency supplies priced at up to $60 and portable generators of up to $1,000 are all exempt, according to the Virginia Department of Taxation.

West Virginia

Dates: July 30 to Aug. 2What items are eligible? As the latest state to add a tax-free weekend, West Virginia debuts its sales tax holiday in 2021. The following items will be exempt: clothing with a purchase price of $125 or less, school supplies of $50 or less, school instruction material of $20 or less, laptops and tablets priced up to $500 and sports equipment costing $150 or less. More details are available through the West Virginia State Tax Department.

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Take Advantage of Tax-Free Weekend Sales originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 08/02/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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