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 nearly 20 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. There is often a threshold on the dollar amount for qualified purchases.

“Tax-free weekends are an easy way to offset inflation,” says Howard Dvorkin, certified public accountant and chairman of Debt.com. “Buying (items) now tax-free could save you even more if those same items will have skyrocketing price tags later.”

However, these sales tax holidays can be controversial. A report by Janelle Fritts, a policy analyst at the Tax Foundation, reads, “Sales tax holidays do not promote economic growth or significantly increase consumer purchases. … Such political gimmicks distract from genuine, permanent tax relief. If a state must offer a ‘holiday’ from its tax system, it is an implicit recognition that the tax system is uncompetitive.”

Still, they remain popular with consumers. Keep reading to learn how to make the most of these tax-free shopping days and which states are offering them this year.

Maximize Savings During Sales Tax Holidays

Some states offer tax-free shopping at various times throughout the year — for instance, Alabama has a severe weather preparedness tax holiday in February — but they are most common in the weeks leading up to the start of the school year.

“Back-to-school shopping is an exciting time for parents and kids … (but) with inflation now at an all-time high, it’s important for parents and guardians to be aware of resources to help them save,” says Richard Donahue, chief marketing officer for the money-saving app Ibotta.

Using coupons and cash-back offers on tax-exempt purchases can help families save more, and apps like Ibotta often run special back-to-school promotions that can be used during sales tax holidays. “These offers are available on the app and online through our browser extension,” Donahue notes.

[READ: Legal Secrets to Reducing Your Taxes]

Leveraging multiple money-saving methods at once is known as deal-stacking, according to Jay Klauminzer, CEO of Raise, an online marketplace where people can buy and sell gift cards. “Paying for purchases with discounted gift cards on these tax-free holidays is another good way for savvy shoppers to deal-stack,” he says. Using a cash-back app such as Slide, which is offered by Raise, may garner as much as 4%-5% back on every purchase as well.

Back-to-School Sales Tax Holidays in 2022

If you’re ready to start saving, here are the 19 states offering back-to-school tax-free days in 2022:

— Alabama

— Arkansas

— Connecticut

— Florida

— Illinois

— Iowa

— Maryland

— Massachusetts

— Mississippi

— Missouri

— New Jersey

— New Mexico

— Ohio

— Oklahoma

— South Carolina

— Tennessee

— Texas

— Virginia

— West Virginia

Alabama

Dates: July 15 to July 17

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. 6 to Aug. 7

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. 21 to Aug. 27

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.

[ SEE: The Most Tax-Friendly States to Retire ]

Florida

Dates: July 25 to Aug. 7

What items are eligible? The 2022 back-to-school sales tax holiday covers clothing, footwear and accessories selling for less than $100 per item, most school supplies selling for $50 or less, jigsaw puzzles and learning aids selling for $30 or less, and personal computers and accessories that cost $1,500 or less, according to the Florida Department of Revenue.

Illinois

Dates: Aug. 5 to Aug. 14

What items are eligible? New this year is a 10-day state sales tax holiday in Illinois that provides a 5% discount off the state sales tax for eligible items. Qualifying purchases include clothing and footwear that have a retail selling price of $125 or less per item and school supplies used by students in the course of study, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue.

Iowa

Dates: Aug. 5 to Aug. 6

What items are eligible? The tax-free days exempt from sales tax any clothing or footwear selling for less than $100 per item, according to the Iowa Department of Revenue.

[ READ: How to Find a Reputable Tax Preparer Near You ]

Maryland

Dates: Aug. 14 to Aug. 20

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.

Massachusetts

Dates: Aug. 13 to Aug. 14

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 sales 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 29 to July 30

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, according to the Mississippi Department of Revenue.

Missouri

Dates: Aug. 5 to Aug. 7

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 Jersey

Dates: Aug. 27 to Sept. 5

What items are eligible? The New Jersey sales tax holiday is new in 2022 and covers school supplies, school art supplies, school instructional materials and sport or recreational equipment. Computers priced at less than $3,000 and school computer supplies selling for less than $1,000 are also exempt from sales tax during the week-long holiday, according to the state’s Division of Taxation.

New Mexico

Dates: Aug. 5 to Aug. 7

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. 5 to Aug. 7

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. 5 to Aug. 7

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. 5 to Aug. 7

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 29 to July 31

What items are eligible? For 2022, 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 personal computers with a price of $1,500 or less. The Tennessee Department of Revenue also notes there is a tax-free period from Aug. 1 to Aug. 31 for food, food ingredients and prepared food, and the state is not charging sales tax on gun safes and safety devices from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023.

Texas

Dates: Aug. 5 to Aug. 7

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.

Virginia

Dates: Aug. 5 to Aug. 7

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: Aug. 5 to Aug. 8

What items are eligible? The following items are exempt from sales tax in West Virginia as part of its tax-free weekend: 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 08/03/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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