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2019 Tax-Free Weekend Back-to-School Shopping Guide

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

There’s a big retail holiday every year aside from Black Friday and it’s tax-free weekend! These weekends, set by individual states, let you shop for certain items without having to pay sales taxes. Tax-free weekends typically correspond with the back-to-school season, allowing you to buy most — if not all — of the supplies your child needs to succeed every academic year.

Most schools and school districts will provide you with a list of items your child will need that year. These will vary by grade. For example, a high school junior might need a graphing calculator, while a kindergartener will need construction paper. If you haven’t already received the school supply list from the district, use this school-supply checklist by age and this one by grade level, or feel free to use your Kinetic Internet to find a list particular to your child’s school or district.)

These lists may always seem lengthy, meaning costs can easily add up. The 2018 Backpack Index shows that the cost of school supplies fell across all grade levels from 2017 to 2018. Yet, parents can still pay up to $1,355 in these supplies per child, the index found. That takes a bigger toll on low-income families, who may not be able to afford all the necessities, and on teachers, who spend an average of $479 per year — out of their own pockets — for supplies.

It should be no surprise, then, if families want to cut some corners. No, we’re not talking about skipping some items on the supply list. We’re talking about back-to-school tax-free weekends.

It’s during these weekends that participating states waive or reduce their sales tax for a certain group of items. Know, too, that while back-to-school tax-free weekends are primarily to help parents, it’s not limited to families. If you’re in need of clothes or any of the items eligible in your state, you can get them for yourself or others tax-free!

When Is It, and What Can You Get? 

Use our guide, based on information from the Sales Tax Institute, to find which states in our communities hold these holidays, when they are this year and what items are eligible.

Alabama Sales Tax Holiday, July 19-21

Alabama’s back-to-school, tax-free weekend is the earliest among all the states. Note that not all counties and municipalities take part in the tax-free weekend. Check here to see whether yours does. Here is what is eligible for tax-free shopping this weekend: 

  • Clothing — $100 or less per item (excludes accessories and protective or recreational equipment)
  • Computers, computer software and school computer supplies — $750 or less per item (excludes purchases for commercial use)
  • Noncommercial school supplies — $50 or less per item
  • Noncommercial purchases of books — $30 or less per item

Arkansas Sales Tax Holiday, August 3-4

In Arkansas, tax-free weekends completely waive local and state sales or use taxes, and all retailers are required to participate. Here is what’s eligible: 

  • Clothing and footwear — less than $100 per item
  • Clothing accessories and equipment — less than $50 per item
  • School supplies, school art supplies and school instructional materials

Florida Sales Tax Holiday, August 2-6

No sales tax or local option tax will be charged on these qualifying items:

  • Certain school supplies — $15 or less per item
  • Clothing, footwear and certain accessories — $60 or less per item
  • Computers and certain accessories — $1,000 or less per item

Iowa Sales Tax Holiday, August 2-3

Iowa’s tax-free weekend takes place on Friday and Saturday, and does not include Sunday. Here’s what you can get then: 

Mississippi Sales Tax Holiday, July 26-27

Mississippi residents looking for some relief on its 7 percent sales tax should search for these back-to-school items:

  • Clothing and footwear — less than $100 per item
  • School supplies — less than $100 per item

Missouri Sales Tax Holiday, August 2-4

Local taxing jurisdictions need not take part in the tax-free weekend. If not, only the state’s sales-tax portion will be waived. Find lists of local cities, counties and districts that have chosen not to participate here. Here’s what will be up for grabs this tax free weekend: 

  • Clothing — $100 or less per item (excludes clothing accessories)
  • School supplies — $50 or less per item
  • Computer software — $350 or less per item
  • Computers/computer peripheral devices — $1,500 or less
  • Graphing calculators — $150 or less per item

New Mexico Sales Tax Holiday, August 2-4

In New Mexico, retailers are not required to participate in tax-free weekends, so you’ll want to double check whether your favorite stores do. (See here for all the details of your state’s back-to-school tax-free weekend.) And, if they do, here’s what you should look out for while shopping tax-free: 

  • Clothing and footwear — less than $100 per item (excludes accessories, athletic, or protective clothing or footwear)
  • School supplies — less than $30 per item
  • Computers, e-readers that have computing functions and tablets — $1,000 or less per item
  • Certain computer-related items — $500 or less per item
  • Bookbags, backpacks, maps and globes — less than $100 per item
  • Handheld calculators — less than $200 per item

Ohio Sales Tax Holiday, August 2-4

Ohio laws do not allow items used in a trade or business to be purchased without tax. Take a look at what you can get tax-free, and keep an eye out for any exclusions, such as clothing accessories and protective or recreational equipment: 

  • Clothing — $75 or less per item
  • School supplies — $20 or less per item
  • School instructional materials — $0 or less per item

Oklahoma Sales Tax Holiday, August 2-4

Here are the back-to-school items you can purchase tax-free during this weekend: 

  • Clothing and footwear — less than $100 per item (excludes accessories, special clothing or footwear primarily designed for athletic activity or protective use that is not normally worn except when used for athletic activity or protective use, or to the rental of clothing or footwear)

South Carolina Sales Tax Holiday, August 2-4

South Carolina residents benefit from no price limits during their tax-free weekend. There are, however, some limitations, so search for these items for tax-free shopping: 

Texas Sales Tax Holiday, August 9-11

Texas allows for tax-free shopping in the state’s stores, as well as online retailers doing business there. Here are the items you can purchase for your back-to-school preparation during this tax-free weekend: 

  • Clothing and footwear — less than $100 per item (excludes accessories, athletic and protective clothing, and rentals of clothing or footwear); backpacks used by elementary and secondary students are included
  • Most school supplies — less than $100 per item

Don’t Forget…

Schools are getting more advanced technology, with some even implementing one device per child. With that in mind, don’t forget that you’ll need a robust, reliable and fast Internet connection, like Kinetic Internet. Windstream’s Kinetic Internet offers speeds starting at up to 25 Mbps, so find the speed that your family will need this school year.