Tax-Free Holidays for Back to School Savings
When it comes to back-to-school shopping, the National Retail Federation knows two things for sure: the shopping started the moment school got out in June, and at least one-quarter of families plan to spend more this year than they did last year. If you haven’t already started, it might be wise to wait until early August. That’s when 17 states plan their 2015 Sales Tax Holiday weekends.
What is a tax holiday?
Officially started in New York in 1997, the tax-free weekend suspends collection of state sales tax for two or three days. Designed to stop people from shopping in nearby states with lower sales tax rates, it has spread around the nation. Although its benefit to state economies is debatable, and some local taxes might still be collected, it’s a big hit for families on a budget. Best of all, you can skip the lines and do your tax-free holiday shopping online.
The real benefit of states tax holidays
If you live in a participating state, your sales tax is probably somewhere between 4% and 6%. That’s what you’ll save when you shop during the tax-free weekend. Is the savings worth it? It is if you combine it with back-to-school sales that will be in full swing. Do some research and see whether you can combine the tax holiday with a manufacturer’s coupon and a valpak.com coupon code.
Best things to buy during tax-free weekend
The holiday has a mighty complex rulebook for what’s tax-exempt and what isn’t. It is, literally, the thickness of a phone book; but the focus is on back-to-school items, with caps on value. Check your state’s list and look for deals on:
- Clothing, including shoes and outerwear
- Electronics, including laptops, tablets and e-readers
- School supplies from pencils to binders to books
- Backpacks and carrying cases
Where to shop for deals
If you won’t be paying sales tax inside a store, you won’t be paying it online, either. Add the savings on top of the big sales that start this time of year. Perennially popular back-to-school retailers include many valpak.com featured merchants: JC Penney for backpacks and sneakers, Target and Kohl’s for school clothes and uniforms and Office Depot for school supplies and calculators. Best Buy and Newegg.com plan low prices for laptops, tablets and PCs.
Online retailer Amazon plans to turn off state sales tax for orders from participating states. It cautions, however, that some independent sellers might still collect state sales taxes – email sellers before ordering.
If your state participates, the tax holiday is a great way to save money on back-to-school items – and even a few things for yourself! If not, use coupon codes on top of sale prices. You’ll earn an A+ in Family Economics 101.
States Participating in the Back-to-School 2015 Sales Tax Holiday
Alabama: August 7-9
Arkansas: August 1-2
Connecticut: August 16-22
Florida: August 7-16
Georgia: July 31-August 2
Iowa: August 7-8
Louisiana: August 7-8
Maryland: August 9-15
Mississippi: August 7-8
Missouri: August 7-9
New Mexico: August 7-9
Ohio: August 7-9
Oklahoma: August 7-9
South Carolina: August 7-9
Tennessee: August 7-9
Texas: August 7-9
Virginia: August 7-9