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. Most of these sales tax holidays happen in August. That’s why I’m writing this blog post now about shopping hacks for a state sales tax free weekend.
One of the ways that you can save money on your back-to-school shopping is by taking advantage of state sales tax holidays. For example, if your state has an eight percent sales tax, during a tax free weekend that’s $8 saved on every $100 spent. Hey, every little bit helps!
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.
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.
Here’s one of the shopping hacks you might not have thought about for tax free weekend online shopping. 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.
Here are some of the stores that I know offer this buy online, pick up in store option:
Tax free school supplies
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. They also have spending limits
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
2019 tax free weekends in August
When are the tax free weekends? Well, they happen all year long. But most of them occur in the summer months.
For 2019 there are 13 states offering a tax free weekend in August. In fact, there is a tax free weekend during every weekend in August 2019. I’ve include shopping hacks and ideas for all of the tax free weekends.
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. In 2019 both Connecticut and Maryland are offering six days of tax free shopping with their sales tax holidays.
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 13 states with tax free weekend shopping this August. 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.
1. Arkansas Tax Free Weekend
Arkansas’s sales tax holiday is August 3 and 4, 2019. That means you can shop tax free on Saturday and Sunday.
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)
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.
Did you know you could get a diaper subscription on Amazon.com so you’ll never run out? Try Amazon Family free for 30 days. One of the benefits is you can save 20% on diapers.
2. Connecticut Tax Free Week
When is the Connecticut sales tax holiday? It is August 18 to 24, 2019. As I mentioned earlier, Connecticut is one of only two states offers nearly a week of tax free shopping.
According to the official state of Connecticut website:
This year will be the state’s 19th Sales Tax Free Week. Per state statute, Sales Tax Free Week begins on the third Sunday of August and runs until the following Saturday. 2019 Sales Tax Free Week dates are Sunday, August 18, through Saturday, August 24, 2019. This is the 19th year.
Even though the timing of the Connecticut sales tax holiday is generous, the categories that qualify is not as generous as some other states. Only clothing and footwear costing less than $100 per item qualifies. You cannot save the state sales tax on any clothing accessories, athletic clothing or protective gear.
3. Florida Tax Free Weekend
The Florida tax free weekend runs August 2-6, 2019. During that time you will not pay Florida sales tax or local option tax on the following:
- certain school supplies selling for $15 or less per item
- clothing, footwear, and certain accessories selling for $60 or less per item
- computers and certain accessories selling for $1,000 or less per item, when purchased for noncommercial or personal use
Fun fact: ear buds fall under the category of headphones, which are considered school supplies. The Florida tax free weekend is the perfect time to stock up! I recently got a great price on Apple ear buds from Staples.com. They were new in the box.
4. Iowa Tax Free Weekend
The Iowa sales tax holiday for 2019 falls on August 2 and 3. 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.
This sales tax holidays is limited to clothing and footwear selling for a price less than $100. According to the Iowa Department of Revenue, the following clothing accessories do not qualify as tax free:
- sporting equipment
- swim fins
- roller blades
- any special clothing or footwear designed primarily for athletic activity or protective use and not usually considered appropriate for everyday wear
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.
5. Maryland Tax Free Week
When is the Maryland sales tax holiday for 2019? It occurs August 11-17, so six days long. Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week allows you to buy clothing and footwear ($100 or less) and not pay taxes on them.
The first $40 of a backpack or book bag purchase is also tax-free. Accessory items, except for backpacks, are not included in the Maryland sales tax holiday.
6. Massachusetts Tax Free Weekend
The Massachusetts tax free weekend 2019 happens on August 17-18. This 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.
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.
7. Missouri Tax Free Weekend
In 2019 the Missouri sales tax holiday is August 2-4. That’s Friday through Sunday.
The Missouri Department of Revenue has included the following in the Missouri 2019 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 $1,500
- Computer peripheral devices – not to exceed $1,500
- Graphing Calculators – not to exceed $150
My daughters always did well with the Texas Instruments graphing calculators for their high school math classes.
8. 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 2019? It is August 2-4. New Mexico’s tax free weekend includes items purchase via the Internet, mail order or over the phone.
During the New Mexico 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
9. Ohio Tax Free Weekend
Ohio residents will no longer have to ask, “When is the tax free weekend in Ohio?” That’s because, beginning in 2019, this tax free weekend is permanent sales tax holiday on the first Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of August each year. Think of it as Ohio back to school tax free. It happens Friday, August 2 through Sunday, August 4, 2019.
The Ohio Department of Taxation says that during this 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
10. Oklahoma Tax Free Weekend
The tax free weekend Oklahoma falls on the same days as so many other states with sales tax holidays. In 2019 that is August 2-4.
What you can buy during tax free weekend Oklahoma and not pay sales tax is pretty limited. It only includes everyday clothing or footwear priced at under $100.
Here is what the Oklahoma Tax Commission has to say about online sales during tax free weekend Oklahoma:
Eligible items sold to purchasers by mail, telephone, email or internet shall qualify for the sales tax exemption if the customer orders and pays for the item and the retailer accepts the order during the exemption period for immediate shipment, even if delivery is made after the exemption period.
11. South Carolina Tax Free Weekend
The South Carolina tax free weekend is great for parents shopping for back to school as well as back to college. That’s because, according to the South Carolina Department of Revenue, “During the annual Sales Tax Holiday, a variety of back-to-school essentials are exempt from the state’s 6% Sales Tax and any applicable local taxes. Tax-free items range from clothing, accessories, and shoes to school supplies, backpacks, and computers. Shoppers will also find tax-free items for their home or dorm room.”
When is the South Carolina tax free weekend? The SC sales tax holiday is August 2-4, 2019.
12. Texas Tax Free Weekend
To enjoy tax free shopping in Texas, you should wait until the annual Texas tax free weekend. 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 2019 the Texas sales tax holidays is Friday, August 9 through Sunday, August 11.
13. Virginia Tax Free Weekend
The Virginia sales tax holiday covers three important shopping categories:
- back to school supplies
- hurricane and emergency preparedness items
- Energy Star and WaterSense products
With regards to school supplies, this includes clothing and footwear. However, there are spending limits. School supplies must be priced $20 or less, and clothing and footwear $100 or less to qualify for tax free shopping. So if you were hoping to get a laptop without paying sales tax on this Virginia tax free weekend, you’re out of luck. Sorry!
As far as Hurricane and emergency preparedness products, you can avoid paying sales tax on the following:
- Portable generators – $1,000 or less per item, which Home Depot stocks
- Gas-powered chainsaws – $350 or less per item; you can buy chainsaws on Amazon.
- Chainsaw accessories – $60 or less per item
- Other specified hurricane preparedness items – $60 or less per item
Qualifying Energy Star or WaterSense products purchased during the Virginia tax free weekend must be for noncommercial home or personal use, and cost $2,500 or less per item.