Mark your calendars now for the Back to School Tax-Free Weekends for 2021! Find out what states will offer tax-free weekends and which ones will not.
Wasn’t it just the other day when we virtually said goodbye to all our friends at the end of a very unusual school year again for many students? Now we are nearing the start of back to school preparations and a new school year which hopefully will be more “normal” for most of our kids!
So here you are with the thought of stocking up on all the brand new spiral notebooks, pencils, binders, and find it exciting. Yet it is also daunting at the same time because you know the expense that is looming especially if you have more than one child in school! Whether your child will be attending in-person, virtual, or blended school this year all those school supplies, electronics, and maybe even some new clothes will no doubt add up quickly! Not to mention probably a decent dent in your paycheck.
what is a tax-free weekend?
Every year select states offer Tax-Free “Holidays” to help families with back-to-school expenses. These tax-free weekends, with Connecticut and Maryland being a week, give you the opportunity to budget your hard-earned money and saving some at the same time.
A tax-free or sales tax “holiday” weekend means you can purchase items from specific qualifying categories such as clothing, school supplies, and computers without paying state and/or local sales taxes. Each participating state sets its own dollar amount limits, which categories they include as well as the items in each category that qualify for the tax-free weekend.
I don’t know about you but getting my kids ready for a new school year almost nearly busts the bank. Not to mention, the older they get the more expensive their “necessary” items were!
So, anything helps because the expenses to start school are R.E.A.L…am I right!
Items Typically Included in the back to school Tax-Free Weekends
If you’re thinking of going on a shopping spree for everything and anything, you may need to rethink your buying list! While there are a lot of items that do not have sales tax during these weekends/weeks, the states which are participating have specific guidelines on those items included. You’re in luck though because I have done A LOT of the research for you!
Generally, though the items you will most likely see in each state participating are:
- School Supplies based on local school supply lists
- Backpacks/Book Bags
- Limited Sporting Equipment
- Personal Computers/Laptops/Software which is part of a bundle
- Printers/Printer Supplies
states which participate in a back to school tax-free weekend
Fortunately, there are a number of states which are still participating in the back-to-school tax-free weekend. Even despite the COVID-19 variants and possible uncertainty of students going back to in-person.
|State||2021 Dates||Taxes Waived||Tax-Free Items Included|
|Alabama||July 16-18||4% state sales tax (Local sales tax may still apply)||Clothing: $100 or less per item. Clothing, coats, and footwear. (Handbags, dance and cleated/spiked athletic shoes excluded)|
Computers: Single purchase of $750 or less. Computers, computer packages, PDA's, software, printers, and print cartridges.
School/Art Supplies: $50 or less per item. Items based on school supply lists to include backpacks, lunch boxes, and calculators.
Books: $30 or less per book.
|Arkansas||August 7-8||6.5% state sales tax AND local sales tax||Clothing: $100 or less per item. Clothing, coats, costumes, and footwear.|
Accessories: $50 or less per item. Handbags and briefcases.
School/Art Supplies: No dollar amount given. Based on school supply lists to include backpacks, lunch boxes, and calculators.
Reference Supplies: No dollar amount given. Reference books, maps, globes, textbooks, and workbooks.
|Connecticut||August 15-21||6.35% state sales and use tax||Clothing/Footwear: $100 or less per item. (Athletic uniforms and protective gear excluded)|
|Florida||July 31-August 9||6% state sales tax AND local sales tax||Clothing/Footwear/Accessories: $60 or less per item. Clothing, footwear, coats, backpacks, costumes, sports uniforms, cleated/spiked shoes.|
School Supplies: $15 or less per item. Based on school supply lists including lunch boxes and calculators.
Personal Computers/Related Accessories: On the first $1000 of the sales price. Personal computers and computer-related accessories for non-commercial use.
|Iowa||August 6-7||6% state sales tax AND local sales tax||Clothing: $100 or less per item. Clothing, coats, footwear, and work/school uniforms. (Backpacks, book bags, handbags, athletic uniforms, spike/cleat athletic shoes excluded)|
|Maryland||August 8-14||6% state sales tax||Clothing: $100 or less per item. Clothing, coats, footwear, and work/school uniforms.|
Accessories: First $40 of a backpack or book bag. (Handbags excluded)
|Massachusetts||August 14-15||6.25% state sales tax||Retail Items: Up to $2500 per item. (Meals, motor vehicles, motorboats, telecommunication services, gas, steam, electricity, tobacco products, marijuana products, and alcoholic beverages excluded)|
|Mississippi||July 30-31||7% state sales and use tax||Clothing: $100 or less per item. Clothing, coats, footwear, backpacks, and uniforms. (Handbags/purses excluded)|
School Supplies: $100 or less per item.
|Missouri||August 6-8||4.225% state sales and use tax. Local sales tax may still apply.||Clothing: $100 or less per item. Clothing, coats, footwear, and school uniforms. (Handbags, ties excluded)|
School Supplies: $50 or less per item. Based on the school supply list including backpacks, art supplies, and globes. (Sporting equipment excluded)
Computers: $150 or less for computers and peripherals. $350 or less for software.
Graphing Calculators: $150 or less per item.
|New Mexico||August 6-8||5.125% state sales tax AND local sales tax||Clothing: $100 or less per item. Clothing, work/school uniforms, and footwear. (Athletic uniforms and protective gear, costumes, handbags, and briefcases excluded)|
School Supplies: $30 or less per item. Based on school supply lists, art supplies, and binders/folders. $200 or less per item for calculators. $100 or less per item for backpacks.
Computers: $1000 or less for computers. $500 or less for peripherals and hardware such as tablets, printer paper, ink cartridges, and e-readers that include computing functions like word processing or spreadsheet programs. (Scanners, zip drives, or software not included in a bundle with qualifying computer purchase excluded)
|Ohio||August 6-8||5.75% state sales and use tax||Clothing: $75 or less per item. Clothing and footwear meant to be worn on the body. (Sports and protective clothing/gear, other accessories excluded)|
School Supplies: $20 or less per item. Based on school supply lists.
Instructional Materials: $20 or less per item.
|Oklahoma||August 6-8||4.5% state and use tax||Clothing: $100 or less per item. Clothing and footwear meant to be worn on the body. (Athletic footwear and protective wear excluded)|
|South Carolina||August 6-8||6% state sales tax AND local sales tax||Clothing: No dollar limit given. Clothing, hats, footwear, dance, and athletic shoes.|
Accessories: No dollar limit given. Handbags, hats.
School Supplies: No dollar limit given. Based on school supply lists to include book bags, books, lunch boxes, and calculators.
Computers: No dollar limit given. Computers, printers, printer supplies, and software (Cell phones, cameras, e-readers, MP3 players excluded)
Home Linens: No dollar amount given. Sheets, towels, bathmats, pillows, and blankets. (Curtains, tablecloths, housewares excluded)
|Tennessee||July 30-August 1||7% state sales tax AND local sales tax||Clothing: $100 or less per item. General apparel such as clothing meant to wear on the body and footwear.|
School Supplies: $100 or less per item. Based on school supply lists including art supplies, backpacks, lunch boxes, and calculators.
Computers: $1500 or less per item. Computers for personal use, tablets, laptops, peripherals, and software bundled with computers. (Separately sold peripherals and software, printer supplies, and storage media excluded)
|Texas||August 6-8||6.25% state sales tax AND local sales tax||Clothing: $100 or less per item. Clothing, coats, footwear, work/school uniforms, and backpacks for elementary and secondary students only. (Handbags, helmets, or protective sports gear excluded)|
School Supplies: $100 or less per item. Based on school supply lists, including book bags, lunch boxes, and calculators.
|Virginia||August 6-8||4.3% general sales AND local tax||Clothing: $100 or less per item. Clothing, coats, footwear, rain gear, school uniforms, and costumes. (Handbags, sports equipment, and protective gear excluded)|
School Supplies: $20 or less per item. Based on school supply lists including art supplies, dictionaries and thesauruses, calculators, book bags, and musical instruments.
|West Virginia||July 30-August 2||6% state sales tax AND local sales tax||Clothing: $125 or less per item. Clothing, coats, footwear, uniforms. (Clothing accessories, sports and protective equipment excluded)|
School Supplies: $50 or less per item. Based on school supply lists, including book bags, lunch boxes, and calculators.
School Instructional Materials: $20 or less per item. Reference books, maps and globes, textbooks and workbooks.
Computers: $500 or less per item. Certain laptops and tablets.
Does the back to school tax-free weekends apply to on-line purchases?
Even if going to the mall isn’t your cup of tea because the crowds are overwhelming – I’m right there with you by the way!
You won’t miss out on the savings because many of the online retailers like Wal Mart, Target, and Amazon also participate! Amazon will automatically charge sales tax on any items not included in your state’s tax-free holiday order. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about keeping track yourself…pretty convenient if you ask me!
In all states offering tax-free weekends, taxes are waived on online purchases if:
- The site you order from does business in the state offering a tax-free weekend. This is most major retailers by the way!
- You purchase items that are eligible for waived taxes. This would be the same items which are offered tax-free in the stores.
- You order and pay for your purchase during the state’s tax-free weekend.
- You live in the state offering the tax-free weekend.
One drawback to the online shopping option is you will still have shipping and handling charges which you would not have if you went to the store. There are some states which consider the shipping costs as part of the price of the item, but others don’t. It is possible that the cost of the shipping and handling to raise the price of the item above the dollar amount threshold and make it taxable.
So make sure you check your state’s rules on the shipping charges.
states which are not participating in a tax-free weekend
Unfortunately, some states do not participate in this great “Get Ready for School Savings.”
Sigh…Insert sad face emoji!
But there are a few states which don’t have a state sales tax, according to the Tax Foundation – Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. Also, most clothing is tax-free year-round in Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
Hopefully, your state offers a Back to School Tax-Free Weekend this year! Even though COVID-19 has put a lot of uncertainty about in-person school for your kids, you can still stock up on those supplies you’ll be needing at a savings!
Do you enjoy going to the mall to shop or online for your kid’s Back to School needs? Let me know in the comments what’s the best and worst parts of Back to School shopping for your family.
Want to remember what states and items are available for Back to tax free weekends? Pin to your favorite pinterest board (I update it every year)!
Elizebeth is a seasoned military spouse, educator, mentor, and mom to a blended family of four children. She is dedicated to helping fellow spouses create a life they love. Elizebeth is the creator and founder of Home Anchor Following Seas where military spouses will find advice and information to help navigate the crazy military lifestyle.