I’ve just update this post on sales tax free weekends for 2021. Why? Because I learned that summer isn’t the only time that states give their residents a holiday from paying sales tax on their purchases. In fact, two are coming up in February that I wanted to share with readers. In addition, states will be offering sales tax free weekends in April and May as well.
Previously, this post focused on tax-free days in July and August. They tied into back-to-school shopping, which is why these tax free weekends were so popular. Even better, you would qualify to shop tax free, even if you’re doing all of your shopping from home.
When it comes to back-to-school spending, smart shoppers know to take advantage of their state’s sales tax free weekend. Each summer a dozen or more states have these tax free weekends. They are a great way to save money on your back-to-school shopping. This includes back to college shopping.
What is a tax free weekend
Why do they call a state sales tax holiday a tax free weekend? Because most of these holidays span a weekend. They can run Friday to Saturday, or Saturday to Sunday.
In some instances a tax free weekend ends up being a three day weekend for you to save on sales tax. That is you can shop tax free on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Some of these tax free days run an entire week.
Does a tax free weekend apply to online shopping
This is great news for a sophisticated consumer who like to shop online. Yes, a tax free weekend does apply to online purchases and online shopping.
Most of the sources for legit sales tax holiday information confirm that it is up to the online site to honor a tax free weekend. That is, if a site like Amazon.com collects sales tax on your state’s behalf–and your state is running one of these August tax free shopping weekends–then Amazon should honor the tax free shopping. In fact, I’ve just added the next few paragraphs to explain this better.
Tax Free Weekend on Amazon
If your state offers a sales tax holiday, you may be wondering if there is also a tax free weekend on Amazon. Or at any online store, for that matter.
Perhaps your question actually is does tax free weekend apply to online purchases? Well, I went straight to the source–Amazon–and found out how it handles a tax free weekend on Amazon.
Here is what the Amazon page on Sales Tax Holidays says:
“Many taxing jurisdictions require select taxable products to be temporarily exempt from tax on specific dates. For example, a sales tax holiday may be enacted on “back to school” products before the new school year.
You can find more information about sales tax holidays, including qualifying items, by visiting your state or US territory’s department of revenue (or equivalent) website.
Sales tax holidays may be applied to sales sold by Amazon.com and its affiliates, including marketplace sellers. However, tax may still be calculated on items if they do not qualify.”
Does Amazon participate in tax free weekend?
So, the answer to the question if there is a tax free weekend on Amazon, yes. And the answer to the question “Does Amazon participate in tax free weekend?” Also, yes. However, be sure to read the fine print, if you will.
Amazon says it will waive the sales tax on qualifying items. Each state has a rule about what items qualify to be exempt from sales tax. In addition, each state has a price limit for this exemption.
How to save on sales tax on Amazon
So what does this mean for you and shopping on Amazon during a tax free weekend or a sales tax holiday? I would recommend making multiple purchases rather than piling everything into your cart. If you can control what you buy and how much, you’ll have a clearer sense if your items fall within your state’s sales tax guidelines.
For example, the Massachusetts tax holiday for 2020 was on Saturday, August 29 and Sunday, August 30th. One of the spending limits is on clothing. You have to buy clothing priced at $175 or less to avoid paying sales tax.
So, let’s say you want to spent your Massachusetts sales tax weekend shopping on Amazon. If it were me, I would make sure to buy each piece of clothing separately and ensure that nothing is priced higher than $175.
Now, if you have Amazon Prime, you won’t pay for shipping anyway. So, purchasing in multiple orders won’t cost you anything extra. But, like I said, it will allow you to keep track of your shopping to ensure that your online purchases meet the spending threshold for your state’s tax holiday.
Which stores participate in a sales tax weekend
I believe by law every store in a state much participate in a sales tax weekend. However, if you’re not ready to shop in the stores, here’s a shopping hack to consider for sales tax weekends this year: Buy online but pick up in store.
This way you avoid the rush of shoppers but still benefit from not paying sales tax. Also you don’t have to worry about paying for shipping.
Stores with buy online, pick up in store
Here are some of the stores that I know offer this buy online, pick up in store option:
Here is my article from the holiday season on buy online, pick up in store options. These are really good to know about for shopping safely from home this year!
What is included in the tax free weekend
The idea behind most of these sales tax holidays is to give families a break on school supplies. That’s why participating states have rules on which categories qualify for tax free shopping.
Usually, you’re looking at basic school supplies, such as notebooks, pens, pencils and backpacks. Some states include computer purchases in their sales tax free weekend holidays. Other states include “off beat” items that qualify as being tax free. This includes scrubs and safety gear.
Is there a limit on the tax free weekend
While you, the consumer, are not limited to how many stores you shop tax free, there are spending limits on what you buy. In other words the sales tax holidays have a cap on what qualifies as tax free.
For example, you may be looking for tax free shoes online. Since many states include back to school clothing and footwear in their sales tax holidays, you’ll be in luck. Just keep in mind that you must buy shoes online costing less than $100 in order for it to qualify as tax free shoes online.
Other tax free shopping categories
Clothing and footwear are the most common items included during a state sales tax holiday. However, many of the states with a tax free weekend include the following categories as well:
- school supplies like notebooks and the like
- computers and computer software
- book bags and backpacks
Which states have sales tax holidays
When are the tax free weekends? Well, they happen all year long. But most of them occur in the summer months of July and August.
In 2021 things might be a bit different. However, from what I can tell, at least a dozen states will, in fact, offer a sales tax free weekend for shopping.
Some states are very generous with their tax free weekend by making them nearly a week long. Therefore, they are tax free shopping weeks, not just weekends.
Here is something to important to remember about a tax free weekend. Even though a state sales tax holiday is timed for back to school, you do not have to be a parent with children to benefit. Anyone shopping on a tax free weekend can reap the rewards of a sales tax holiday. Just keep your spending within the rules and the approved categories!
Here is an alphabetical listing of the more than dozen states with tax free weekend shopping this summer. I’ve included the dates of the individual sales tax holidays, the categories the state has included for tax free shopping and links to online retailers in those categories. This allows you to shop from the comfort of home and save on sales tax for your back to school shopping.
Note: some of these state sales tax holidays also include hurricane preparedness and disaster products. If you live in a state that’s susceptible to storms, it would be smart to take advantage of tax free shopping for these products, too.
Finally, not every state has announced their tax free shopping holidays for 2021 yet. So, whenever possible, I’ve updated this post based on the best information I could find at the time. As more details become available throughout the year, I will continue to update this post. In addition, if you, dear reader, come across something before I do, please let me know by posting a comment below.
Alabama Sales Tax Holiday
In Alabama, you can enjoy sales tax holidays twice during the year. The first sales tax holiday occurs in February; the second sales tax holiday occurs during the summer, usually in mid July.
Alabama Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday
The first of two sales tax free weekends in Alabama in 2021 happens February 26-28. That’s when the state offers this incentive for resients to stock up on hurricane preparedness products.
Considering that Alabama lived through nine hurricanes and named storms in 2020, it might be a good idea to take advantage of these savings. The state calls this the Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. Here’s what qualifies for tax-free shopping:
- generators (up to $1,000)
- supplies (up to $60)
These “supplies” include items you could use throughout the year, such as cell phone chargers, plastic drop cloths and duct tape.
Alabama Back to School Sales Tax Holiday
In 2020 the Alabama back to school sales tax holiday was July 17-19, 2020. That was Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So a three-day sales tax free weekend. The following items were exempt from state sales tax:
- books (up to $20)
- clothing (up to $100)
- computers (up to $750)
- school supplies (up to $50)
However, Alabama has not announced yet when the 2021 back to school sales tax holiday will be.
You can find more information about Alabama sales tax holidays on the state’s Department of Revenue website here.
Arkansas Tax Free Weekend
The Arkansas tax free weekend 2020 was just two days. It is Saturday, August 1 and Sunday, August 2, 2020. Here are the three categories that qualify for the tax free weekend in Arkansas, plus spending limits:
- Clothing and footwear (each item must cost less than $100)
- Clothing accessories and equipment (priced under $50 per item)
- School supplies, school art supplies, and school instructional materials (no price limit mentioned)
According to the statute, all retailers in Arkansas must participate in this sales tax holiday. The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration has not yet announced when the 2021 sales tax holiday will be.
What’s included in the Arkansas tax free weekend
Believe it or not, Arkansas includes wedding apparel in its list of tax exempt clothing during the tax free weekend. So are diapers and underwear.
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Another diaper subscription to consider is from The Honest Company. Use this link and plug in code DIAPER20 to save 20% on diapers.
Connecticut Tax Free Week
In 2020 the only way I knew that Connecticut’s Tax Free Week was being held August 16-22, 2020 was a Dick’s Sporting Goods has page devoted to tax-free shopping for back to school. It has not announced a 2021 sales tax holiday yet.
Florida Tax Free Weekend
In 2020 Florida held its tax-free shopping holiday on Friday, August 7 through Sunday, August 9, 2020. Here was the official word from the State of Florida Department of Tax Revenue:
“During the 2020 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday Aug. 7-9, qualifying items will be exempt from tax, including certain school supplies selling for $15 or less per item; clothing, footwear, and certain accessories selling for $60 or less per item; and the first $1,000 of the sales price of personal computers and certain computer-related accessories purchased for noncommercial home or personal use. For more information and a list of qualifying items, visit https://floridarevenue.com/backtoschool.”
No word yet on if there will be a 2021 sales tax holiday in Florida. Also, I’m surprised Florida doesn’t have tax-free shopping for hurricane preparedness like Alabama does.
Iowa Tax Free Weekend
The Iowa annual sales tax holiday always happens each year on the first Friday and Saturday of August. That’s Friday and Saturday only, by the way, so the tax free weekend Iowa is not a full weekend for sales tax free shopping. That’s important to keep in mind.
As far as tax free weekend online shopping goes, here is more from the Iowa Department of Revenue about Iowa sales tax holiday:
Eligible items purchased by mail order, catalog, or Internet are exempt if they are [d]elivered during the exemption period, or [o]rdered and paid for during the exemption period, even if delivery is made after the Sales Tax Holiday.
Maryland Sales Tax Holidays
Maryland is another state that offers more than one sales tax holiday throughout the year. The first sales tax holiday occurs in February; the second sales tax holiday occurs during the summer, usually in early to mid August.
Maryland Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday
The first of the two sales tax free weekends in Maryland is February 13-15, 2021. It focuses on Energy Star products and is called Shop Maryland Energy Weekend.
Here is how the Maryland Taxes website describes when this sales tax holiday happens each year:
The sales and use tax-free weekend, called Shop Maryland Energy, takes place in February and applies to the sale of a qualified Energy Star product or a solar water heater that is sold between 12:01 a.m. on the Saturday immediately preceding the third Monday in February and 11:59 p.m. on the third Monday of February.
As far as what is exempt from sales tax, it’s important to remember that not every Energy Star item qualifies. More from Maryland:
Only air conditioners, clothes washers, clothes dryers, furnaces, heat pumps, standard size refrigerators, compact fluorescent light bulbs, dehumidifiers, boilers and programmable thermostats that have been designated as meeting or exceeding the applicable Energy Star efficiency requirements developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Department of Energy and are authorized to carry the Energy Star label are exempt during the Shop Maryland Energy weekend. In addition, the exemption applies to the sale of any solar water heater.
Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week
Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week is Maryland’s sales tax holiday tied into back-to-school shopping. Last year Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week was August 9-15, 2020. No word yet about when Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week will happen in 2021.
Massachusetts Sales Tax Holiday
Turns out the Massachusetts sales tax holiday is actually a law since 2018. So you can expect this to happen each year in August. In 2020 it was Saturday, August 29 to Sunday, August 30.
The Massachusetts sales tax holiday is different than any other state. How? Pretty much everything you buy during the tax free weekend is exempt from sales tax. This includes meals out at restaurants, items costing under $2,500 (with a few exceptions) along with all of the back to school items you would expect to save money on during a sales tax holiday.
There is a limit on clothing, though. Items of clothing must be priced under $175 to be exempt from sales tax. Either way the Massachusetts sales tax holiday is a great opportunity to support local businesses in the retail and restaurant sectors.
Online sales and the Massachusetts sales tax holiday
As far as online sales and the Massachusetts tax free weekend, here is what the Massachusetts Department of Revenue has to say:
If you order and pay for an eligible item over the internet on the sales tax holiday, Eastern Daylight Time, that item will qualify for the sales tax holiday exemption. No sales tax is due on that purchase, even if delivery of the item occurs after the sales tax holiday weekend.
Mississippi Sales Tax Holiday
Mississippi is another state offering two sales tax holidays during the year. Both occur in the summer. One is in July; the other is in August.
Mississippi Back to School Sales Tax Holiday
Look for the Mississippi back to school sales tax holiday the last weekend of July. During that time you do not have to pay sales tax on any article of clothing, footwear or school supplies that costs less than $100. That’s a single item priced under $100–not your total purchase.
Here is what the Mississippi tax site says about online purchases during the sales tax holiday:
“Sales of eligible items that were placed or ordered by mail, telephone, or the internet are not subject to Sales Tax if the purchaser orders and pays for the items during the Sales Tax Holiday and the items are less than the $100.00 threshold.”
Mississippi Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday
Given the name of this sales tax holiday, it’s no surprise that it focses on firearms, hunting supplies and ammunition. Mississippi residents can look forward to the Second Amendendment Sales Tax Holiday on the last weekend of August each year. There does not seem to be any price limits for qualifying purchases to be exempt from sales tax.
Missouri Sales Tax Holiday
Missouri is another state with two sales tax holidays during the year. The first sales tax holiday is in April; the second sales tax holiday happens over the summer, usually in early August.
Show Me Green Sales Tax Holiday
The cleverly named Show Me Green Sales Tax Holiday focuses on new energy-efficient Energy Star appliances only. Get the play on words? Missouri is the “show me” state. And instead of “show me the money” they’re saying “show me the green”? Cute, right?
Anyway, this sales tax holiday is always seven-days long, from April 19-25. In 2021 that will be Monday through Saturday.
Missouri Back to School Sales Tax Holiday
According to Missouri state law, the the Missouri back to school sales tax holiday begins on the first Friday in August and continues through the following Sunday. So, in 2021 the Missouri sales tax holiday is Friday, August 6 through Sunday, August 8.
The Missouri Department of Revenue has included the following in the Missouri sales tax holiday:
- Clothing – any article having a taxable value of $100 or less
- School supplies – not to exceed $50 per purchase
- Computer software – taxable value of $350 or less
- Personal computers – not to exceed $3,500
- Computer peripheral devices – not to exceed $3,500
New Mexico Tax Free Weekend
New Mexico calls its back to school, tax free holiday the New Mexico Gross Receipts Tax Holiday. When it this tax free weekend in 2021? August 6-8. That’s Friday through Sunday.
During the New Mexico sales tax free weekend, you won’t pay sales tax on the following:
- Clothing or shoes must be priced at less than $100 per unit
- The price limit for desktop, laptop, tablets or notebook computers is $1,000
- The price limit for related computer hardware is $500
- School supplies for use in standard, general-education classrooms must be priced under $30 per unit
Ohio Sales Tax Holiday
Ohio residents will no longer have to ask, “When is the tax free weekend in Ohio?” That’s because a few years ago, this tax free weekend became a permanent sales tax holiday. The Ohio sales tax holiday now happens each year on the first Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of August.
Think of it as Ohio back to school tax free or the Ohio tax free holiday. In 2021 it happens Friday, August 6 through Sunday, August 8.
What qualifies during the Ohio sales tax free weekend
The Ohio Department of Taxation says that during this Ohio sales tax holiday, the following items are exempt from sales and use tax:
- Clothing priced at $75 per item or less;
- School supplies priced at $20 per item or less
- School instructional material priced at $20 per item or less
Oklahoma Tax Free Weekend
Oklahoma’s annual sales tax holiday is a three-day event in August. In 2021 it is August 6-8.
Retailers are required to participate in the three-day sales tax holiday and may not collect sales and use tax on sales on qualified footwear and clothing items priced less than $100 dollars.”
South Carolina Sales Tax Holiday
South Carolina’s sales tax holiday in 2021 is Friday, August 6, through Sunday, August 8, 2020. Some of the items you’ll be able to purchase tax free include computers, clothes, and school supplies.
From a press release about South Carolina’s annual 72-hour Sales Tax Holiday:
“The South Carolina Department of Revenue (SCDOR) reminds shoppers that eligible items can be purchased online and in-store without paying the state’s 6% Sales Tax and any applicable local taxes during South Carolina’s Sales Tax Holiday.”
Shoppers will also find tax-free items for their home or dorm room.”
Tennessee Sales Tax Holiday
The Tennessee back to school shopping weekend occurs July 30-August 1, 2020. That’s over a three-day weekend of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s the sales tax holiday that focuses on clothing, school supplies and computers.
Texas Tax Free Weekend
You know how everything is bigger in Texas? Well, the same is true when it comes to sales tax holidays. Texas is the only state to offer three tax-free shopping holidays throughout the year. They are held in:
Texas Emergency Preparedness Supplies Sales Tax Holiday
The Emergency Preparedness Supplies Sales Tax Holiday happens each April. In 2021 it will be April 24-26.
Here is a detailed list of tax-exempt items that qualify as being emergency preparedness supplies:
- Less than $3000
- Portable generators
- Less than $300
- Emergency ladders
- Hurricane shutters
- Less than $75
- Batteries, single or multipack (AAA cell, AA cell, C cell, D cell, 6 volt or 9 volt)
- Can openers – nonelectric
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Coolers and ice chests for food storage – nonelectric
- Fire extinguishers
- First aid kits
- Fuel containers
- Ground anchor systems and tie-down kits
- Ice products – reusable and artificial
- Light sources – portable self-powered (including battery operated)
- Examples of items include: candles, flashlights and lanterns
- Mobile telephone batteries and mobile telephone chargers
- Radios – portable self-powered (including battery operated) – includes two-way and weather band radios
- Smoke detectors
- Tarps and other plastic sheeting
Texas Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday
The Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday is the month following the emergency supplies sales tax. Or, in other words, May. For 2021 it is the last weekend in May: May 29-31.
Here is a detailed list of items that qualify. Note: Texas says you can buy, rent or lease these items, and still not pay sales tax:
- air conditioners (with a sales price of $6,000 or less)
- refrigerators (with a sales price of $2,000 or less)
- ceiling fans
- incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs
- clothes washers
Texas Back to School Sales Tax Holiday/Tax Free Weekend
The annual Texas tax free weekend for back to school shopping is in August. That’s when you can buy most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks (sold for less than $100) tax free from a Texas store or from an online or catalog seller doing business in Texas.
For 2021 the tax free weekend in Texas falls on the first full weekend of August. That would be Friday, August 6 through Sunday, August 8.
Virginia Sales Tax Holiday
The Virginia sales tax holiday in 2021 is August 6-8. It is a three-day holiday over a long weekend–Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Virginia sales tax holiday covers three important shopping categories:
- back to school supplies (school supplies must be priced $20 or less, and clothing and footwear $100 or less)
- hurricane and emergency preparedness items (supplies under $60 and generators prices at $1,000 or less)
- Energy Star products (costing less than $2,500)
West Viriginia Sales Tax Holiday
2021 is the first year that West Virginia will be offering an annual sales tax holiday. From this Sales Tax Institutue article describing this new sales tax holiday, it looks like this back to school sales tax weekend is a two-day event. It starts on the first Sunday in August.
More from that article on what qualifies to be tax-free:
- clothing priced at $125 or less;
- school supplies priced $50 or less;
- school instruction material priced $20 or less;
- Laptop and tablet computers, not purchased for use in a trade or business, priced at $500 or less; and
- Sports equipment, not purchased for use in a trade or business, priced at $150 or less