Many states offer a sales tax holiday every year, and it generally coincides with the back-to-school shopping season in order to ease the shopping burden on parents of school-aged children. And although the concept is known as a "tax free weekend" to most people, many of them last for three days, or even a week. Read on to learn the details of sales tax holidays and see whether or not you can expect one in your state this year.
The idea behind a sales tax holiday
The concept of a sales tax holiday originated in New York in 1996, and since that time, many other states have embraced the idea. And why not? Studies have shown that during sales tax holidays, households buy 49% more clothing and 45% more shoes than they normally do.
Most sales tax holidays only apply to certain items; clothing, school supplies, and books are the most common. However, some states allow tax-free purchases of computers, appliances, and other items.
Coming to a state near you?
First off, it's important to mention that Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon are on a "permanent tax holiday." These five states don't have a general sales tax at all, so a tax holiday is a moot point to their residents.
Throughout the rest of the Union, 15 states have declared (or are expected to declare) a tax free weekend or week in 2015, so here's a guide to the participants and what's included. It's also worth noting that many states have restrictions on price, such as "clothing items under $100."
|State||2015 Tax Holiday Dates||Days||Items Included|
|Alabama||Aug. 7-9||3||clothing, computers, school supplies, books|
|Arkansas||Aug. 1-2||2||clothing, school supplies|
|Connecticut||Aug. 16-22||7||clothing, footwear|
|Georgia||July 31-Aug. 1||2||clothing, school supplies, computers|
|Louisiana||Aug. 7-8||2||all purchases of "tangible personal property" other than vehicles and prepared meals (note: Louisiana has separate tax holidays for hurricane preparedness items from May 30-31, and for firearms and hunting supplies from Sept. 4-6)|
|Maryland||Aug. 9-15||7||clothing, footwear|
|Mississippi||July 24-25||2||clothing, footwear (note: Mississippi has a separate tax holiday for firearms and hunting supplies from September 4-7)|
|Missouri||Aug. 7-9||3||clothing, computers, school supplies|
|New Mexico||Aug. 7-9||3||clothing, school supplies, computers, computer equipment|
|South Carolina||Aug. 7-9||3||clothing, school supplies, computers|
|Tennessee||Aug. 7-9||3||clothing, school supplies, computers|
|Texas||Aug. 7-9||3||clothing, backpacks, school supplies|
|Virginia||Aug. 7-9||3||clothing, school supplies, energy star products, hurricane preparedness items, generators|
Take advantage if you can
It's definitely worth planning your back-to-school or other shopping during your state's tax free weekend, if it has one.The savings on a big-ticket item like a computer could be worth waiting for, and the same can be said of school clothes and supplies, which any parent can tell you are not cheap.
The average family with school-age children spent nearly $700 on back-to-school shopping last year, so avoiding sales tax can add up to a substantial amount of savings for you. Think of all of the things you need that could qualify for your state's tax holiday and celebrate this "holiday" if you can.