In our recent back-to-school supplies post, we noted that tax-free days may be the best time to stock up (if your state runs such a program) on things like notebooks and markers. The tax holiday takes place this weekend in several states and rolls out elsewhere as we get closer to the start of the school year. Where local taxes are also levied, some counties and municipalities likewise forgo collecting sales tax on your purchases. At the end of the day, you could wind up saving a decent amount of change.
Seventeen states offer tax-free days throughout the year. The Federation of Tax Administrators offers this chart which details the exact dates and what type of products are tax free in each state. Between August 5 and midnight on August 7, Alabama, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia are giving up tax revenue on select items. Iowa and Louisiana run tax-free days on August 5 and 6 only, while Arkansas joins the fun on August 6 and 7. In every state except South Carolina, there's a $100 limit on clothing purchases, meaning anything above that amount gets taxed. Computers are capped at $750 in Alabama but you can spend up to $3,500 in Missouri and South Carolina. Parents can grab school supplies totaling $15 in New Mexico, $20 in Virginia, $50 in Alabama and Missouri, and $100 in North Carolina and Tennessee without the tax add-on. Louisiana has perhaps the most permissive tax-free deal this weekend: $2,500 worth of tangible personal property purchased for non-business use.
Aside from the price caps on tax-free items, other rules may apply. Some states prohibit the use of coupons on goods covered by the tax-free umbrella; check the web page for your state here to see if this restriction applies. Tax-free days typically exclude services like haircuts and dry cleaning and focus more on tangible goods. You also don't have to select or take possession of the things you want to buy during the tax-free holiday; items you already had put on layaway or want shipped to you still qualify -- as long as you actually pay for the item(s) on a tax-free day, you're good.
Several states give consumers a break with more than one tax-free day during the year. Louisiana has two additional holidays: September 2-4 for hunting supplies, firearms, and ammunition, and May 28-29 for hurricane-preparedness purchases up to $1,500. Missouri stages an entire tax-free week, April 19-25, when residents can save sales taxes on Energy Star products costing $1,500 or less. A similar program in Virginia, which caps purchases at $2,500, runs from October 7-10; tax savings on hurricane-preparedness purchases and generators are available between May 25 and 31. Texas has tax-free shopping August 19-21 for clothing and school supplies and May 28-30 for Energy Star products, including air conditioners. Tax-free days in other states: August 12-14 for Florida, August 13-14 for Massachusetts, August 14-20 and February 19-21 for Maryland, August 21-27 for Connecticut, and July 29-30 for Mississippi.
So go ahead and spend a little. Give the economy a boost while keeping some of that hard-earned cash in your own pocket.