Sales tax holidays were initiated in New York State in 1997 to offer its residents temporary relief from paying sales taxes on certain items. Following the Empire State’s lead, 8 more states began offering their own tax-free holidays. Sales Tax Holidays were offered primarily in August to help families with kids a perk when they purchased clothing, shoes, and computer equipment.
Today, Sales Tax Holidays are usually connected to “back to school” sales; however, there is a political reason behind this because when politicians support money-savings tips that are tied to educational concerns, it makes them look good in the public’s eye.
Before you participate in Sales Tax Holidays in your state (assuming your state participates in this annual event), be sure you know what items are included, what the dollar limit is, and be aware that only items purchased for personal use rather than business use qualifies. Some states have added school supplies to Sales Tax Holidays; however, be sure to check the list of qualified items that your state allows before you buy anything because each state limits what can be included.
Additionally, even if your state does not offer a Sales Tax Holiday, be careful about scheduling a vacation to a state that does offer a Sales Tax Holiday or driving to a state that offers the holiday (if you live near a state border) because although you may save on sales tax, you may end up paying “use tax”. According to the BankRate article: Every state that has a sales tax also has a use tax, a companion levy that requires a resident to pay sales tax on items used in their home state even if the material wasn’t bought there. Use taxes are not well known by taxpayers and, to the consternation of state tax collectors, generally ignored by consumers. But technically, notes Walsh, shoppers at neighboring tax-free holiday sales may be liable for their home state’s use tax.
Keep in mind that this is only a small savings in the overall scheme of things. My philosophy is that anytime I can save any amount of money with minimal effort is worth my time and effort. This is another of those tips that I offer to help you save a little money.
Sales taxes in states range from 6% to 9% and there are usually limits to the dollar amount that qualifies for Sales Tax Holidays. Time.com provides a really nice map that you can hover your mouse over to know what states provide Sales Tax Holidays and the maximum amount that sales tax freedom covers.
Alabama: clothing, computers, school supplies, books (2nd annual event: February)
Arkansas: clothing, school supplies, books
Georgia: clothing, school supplies, computers (2nd annual event: October)
Louisiana: firearms, ammunition, hunting supplies (2nd annual event: May)
Maryland: clothing & footwear (2nd annual event is in February)
Massachusetts: school supplies, computers, sports equipment, health & beauty aid
Missouri: clothing, school supplies, computers (2nd annual event: September)
New Mexico: clothing, school supplies, computers
Ohio: clothing, school supplies
South Carolina: clothing, school supplies, computers
Tennessee: clothing, school supplies, computers
Texas: clothing, diapers, backpacks, school supplies
Virginia: clothing, school supplies, green appliances, hurricane preparedness items (2nd annual event: May)
- Department of Revenue
- List of all states and the sales tax percent
- Tax Administration
- Tax Rates