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Back-to-school tax holidays on tap

Massachusetts and D.C. are out. Maryland is on hold until 2010. And Illinois briefly considered it, but decided "no."

Tax holiday 2009_iowa I'm talking of course about back-to-school sales tax holidays. These perennial events offer shoppers a chance to buy certain products -- typically clothing and/or school supplies -- without having to pay the state's sales tax on the items. In many cases, local jurisdictions forgo collection of their additional levies, too.

A tough economy and shrinking state coffers have prompted some locales to abandon, at least temporarily, their annual sales tax holidays.

I'm still keeping an eye on Massachusetts. Last year it sneaked in at the last minute, but Bay State shoppers shouldn't hold their breath this year.

The nation's capital made its no-holiday position official a couple of weeks ago, announcing on the Washington, D.C., Tax and Revenue Web page that "Legislation has been enacted to repeal the District of Columbia’s August 2009 sales tax holiday. The repeal will avoid the loss of an estimated $640,000 in sales tax revenues in the current fiscal year."

No word yet on whether D.C.'s post-Thanksgiving tax holiday will go on as planned.

15 holidays still scheduled: But there still are 15 states whose lawmakers decided that giving up some revenue is at least a good PR move. Plus the states might make a little money or at least break even if people spend more than they intended or buy items that aren't tax-free.

And retailers, although they have to make changes to their equipment to account for the no-tax period (as well as track whether their local tax collectors want them to add the tax to purchases) still seem to like the events. Given that the National Retail Federation's annual back-to-school shopping survey indicates that spending on grade-school-aged children will drop 8 percent this year, businesses are looking for any boost they can get.

Below is a table listing the state tax holidays alphabetically. Most of the August events will start  next week, on Friday, Aug. 7. But a couple of states -- Georgia and Mississippi, holding its first-ever tax holiday -- kick things off later this week.

So pay close attention to the dates and also to exactly what is, and isn't, tax free. The table gives general information, but be sure to double check the official Web pages to make sure you don't inadvertently buy a still-taxable item.

Back-to-School Sales Tax Holidays
Click on the state name to go to the official tax holiday Web page.
State Dates Tax-exempt Items
Alabama August

Clothing costing less than $100; school supplies selling for up to $50 each; books that cost up to $30; computers and software costing $750 or less. Cities and counties can opt out.

Connecticut August  
Clothing and footwear costing less than $300 per item.
July 30 - Aug. 2 Clothing and footwear selling for $100 or less; personal computers (and/or related accessories) bought in a single purchase of $1,500 or less; general school supplies costing $20 or less per item.

The Peach State will hold a second sales-tax holiday Oct. 1-4 for specific energy- and water-efficient products.
Clothing or footwear costing less than $100.
Most items purchased for personal use that do not exceed $2,500 each.
July 31 - Aug. 1 Clothing and footwear priced at less than $100 per item.
Clothing and footwear items worth $100 or less; school supplies priced at $50 or less; personal computers bought for $3,500 or less; computer peripheral equipment also priced at $3,500 or less; software costing $350 or less.
New Mexico
Clothing costing less than $100; computers costing less than $1,000 and peripherals less than $500; school supplies costing no more than $15. Eligible and ineligible items detailed in this PDF document.
North Carolina
Clothing, footwear and students' school supplies costing $100 or less per item; school instructional materials of $300 or less per item; sports and recreation equipment priced at $50 or less per item; computers of $3,500 or less per item; and computer supplies of $250 or less.

The Tar Heel State will hold a second sales-tax holiday Nov. 6-8 for Energy Star qualified products.
Clothing and footwear costing $100 or less per item.
South Carolina
Clothing, clothing accessories, footwear, school supplies, computers, printers, printer supplies and computer software. There is no dollar limit on eligible items.

The Palmetto State will hold its Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday on Nov. 27-28, during which time no tax will be collected on purchases of handguns, rifles and shotguns.
Tennessee August
Clothing with a price of $100 or less per item; school supplies selling for $100 or less per item; computers for personal use with a price of $1,500 or less. Art supplies for school work (clay, glazes, paint, paintbrushes, sketch pads, etc.) also are tax-exempt as long as they meet the $100 limit.
Clothing and footwear priced less than $100 per item.
Clothing and shoes priced at $100 or less per item; school supplies that cost $20 or less per item.

The state will hold a second sales-tax holiday Oct. 9-12 for energy-efficient products priced at $2,500 or less.
West Virginia Sept. 1 - Nov. 30 Energy Star appliances costing $5,000 or less and purchased for home, not commercial use.

If your state has a tax holiday holiday, or you live next to one and it makes economic sense to drive across state lines to pick up some tax-free products, happy shopping. Just make sure you have a list, buy only what you need and if you charge the purchases, use a credit card with a low interest rate.


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Isn't it bad enough that some people have to worry about a job, but now some states aren't participating in this? Things are so expensive and all we want is a little break so we can buy the things our kids need to go to school and get an education. Why is that so hard? oh wait maybe Maryland(where i'm from) is having a meeting on this. They say things are going to get better, but they are getting worse.


Also tax-free in Texas-school supplies, baby clothes, diapers up to $100 per item.


new york state stinks, already the highest taxed in the nation. No breaks for us i guess, Bye Bye western new york!


What, no California holiday? I'm shocked!

Kay @ Don't Mess With Taxes

More than OK. Linking is very welcome! Glad you found it useful and thanks for sharing. Hope you get some good bargains!

laura soares

Hi, this is such helpful information. I've linked to this post - hope that's ok!

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