While kids are still enjoying the carefree days of summer, some parents are already planning their back-to-school shopping strategies. According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 30 percent of parents plan to start their 2016 back-to-school shopping two months before the first day of class. For those shoppers residing in states offering tax-free days or weekends, starting early means saving even more on classroom essentials.
The annual August tax-relief holiday doesn't discriminate by age or income, but each state selects which back-to-school items are included. Happily, some allow consumers to use both online and printable coupons for their purchases and various larger merchants offer special sales geared to the event.
Here are the dates and some details for each participating state. Most only allow tax relief up to a set amount, such as $100 per item of clothing or $750 for computer equipment. Click on the links for complete details.
2016 Updates for Louisiana and Massachusetts: Louisiana is offering a partial tax holiday in 2016 and 2017, charging a 3% sales tax on “most items of tangible personal property.” Massachusetts is unlikely to renew it's annual sales tax holiday due in part to state budget issues.
Alabama - Aug. 5 to 7
Includes clothing, school supplies, books, computers, software and computer supplies. Check this list for participating counties.
Arkansas - Aug. 6 to 7
Includes clothing and footwear (less than $100 per item), accessories (less than $50 per item), school supplies, select art supplies and instructional materials.
Connecticut - Aug. 21-27
Applies only to clothing and footwear worth less than $300.
Florida - Aug. 5 -7
Covers clothing and footwear (up to $60 per item) and school supplies (up to $15 per item).
Georgia - July 30 to 31
Applies to clothing, accessories, footwear and some sports supplies, including uniforms, up to $100 per item; computers, related components and software up to $1,000 per item; and school supplies up to $20 per item.
Iowa - Aug. 5 to 6
Maryland - Aug. 14 through 20
Includes clothing and footwear up to $100 each, but not such accessories as handbags, jewelry, etc. Click on the link above for a complete list of exempt and taxable items.
Mississippi - July 29 to 30
Applies to clothing and footwear items priced at $100 or less, not including activewear or anything related to athletic or recreational activities.
Missouri - Aug. 5 to 7
Covers clothing and footwear (up to $100 each); computers and peripheral devices (up to $3,500); computer software (up to $350); and school supplies (up to $50 per unit). Select cities and counties are not participating.
New Mexico - Aug. 5 to 7
Exempts school supplies (under $30 per item) with specific price caps on specialty supplies including calculators and backpacks; computers (up to $1,000) and computer equipment (up to $500); clothing and footwear (up to $100 per item). Diapers and baby clothes also are included on the list.
Ohio - Aug 5 to 7
Includes clothing (up to $75 per item) and school supplies and instructional materials (up to $20 per item).
Oklahoma - Aug. 5 to 7
Applies to clothing and footwear of less than $100 per item, excluding items for sports.
South Carolina - Aug. 5 to 7
Exempts school supplies, linens, clothing and footwear (including sports uniforms), computers, printers and software. Check this page for a list of frequently asked questions.
Tennessee - July 29 to 31
Applies to computers ($1,500 or less), clothing ($100 or less), and school and art supplies ($100 or less). Click on the link above for a complete list of exempt items.
Texas - Aug. 5 to 7
Only applies to clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced under $100.
Virginia - Aug. 5 to 7
Applies to school supplies ($20 or less per item) and certain clothing and footwear ($100 or less per item). Also applies to hurricane and emergency preparedness items ($60 to $1,000) and Energy Star and WaterSense items (up to $2,500) for personal and noncommercial use only.