How can I find out if my state is having sales tax holiday
this summer, and how can I make the most of this break?
At total of 17 states are having a sales tax holiday this
summer, with the majority offering the break during the first
weekend in August. The first sales tax holiday of the season is
July 27-28 in Mississippi; the last is August 19-25 in
Sales tax holidays don't let you off the hook on sales taxes
across the board, but they do let you buy certain items without
having to pay the tax, which generally ranges from 4% to 7%. The
tax holiday can be a great opportunity to get a head start on
back-to-school shopping, or to stretch your dollars even further on
end-of-season clothing sales and computer purchases. Here are a few
strategies to make the most of this break.
Before you shop, know what types of items the sales tax
holiday covers in your state.
School supplies and clothes are generally covered, but your state
may have a specific list of eligible items. For example, both
Virginia and Alabama have long lists of the school supplies that
count. Some states, such as Georgia, Missouri and North Carolina,
exempt computer purchases from sales tax during the holiday, too.
North Carolina's holiday also includes any sports equipment that
costs $50 or less per item. Louisiana doesn't limit the list to
specific types of purchases. Instead, it offers the tax break on
the first $2,500 of the purchase price on most personal-property
items. (See our
Guide to 2012 Sales-Tax Holidays
for links to each state's dates, along with detailed lists and
Be careful about per-item limits.
Many states limit the break to clothes and school supplies that
cost less than $100 per item. In those states, your total can add
up to more than $100 as long as each item costs less than that. So
if you bought five jackets that cost $90 each, for example, all of
them would be exempt from state sales taxes, even though the total
would be $450. But if one jacket was $150, you'd have to pay sales
tax on the full $150 for that jacket (although any other items that
cost less than $100 would be exempt). Also, be sure to note the
limits for computers in your state. North Carolina and Missouri
exempt computer purchases of up to $3,500 from state sales taxes,
but Georgia and New Mexico limit the break to computers that cost
less than $1,000 (New Mexico also lets you exempt related computer
hardware that costs up to $500).
Find out about other sales tax holidays.
Georgia will have a second sales tax holiday from October 5 through
October 7 specifically for energy-efficient and weather-efficient
products priced at $1,500 or less per item; Virginia has a similar
break October 5-8 on Energy Star and WaterSense purchases priced at
$2,500 or less each. Louisiana and South Carolina usually have
sales tax holidays on guns and hunting supplies in time for hunting
season (in September and November, respectively). Alabama and
Louisiana have sales tax holidays for hurricane-preparedness items
around the beginning of hurricane season, on June 1. Alabama's tax
holiday is in early July; Louisiana's is in late May. See the
Federation of Tax Administrators tax-holiday
for more information about these sales tax holidays.