A father holds his daughter as they reach for school supplies at Walmart.


Mike Brassfield, a staff writer for The Penny Hoarder, and his daughter, Annabelle Brassfield, reach for a school supplies box while shopping at Walmart Supercenter in St. Petersburg, Fla. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Back-to-school shopping may be exciting for the kids who get new gear, but less so for the parents who have to pay for it all.

A survey from the National Retail Federation found that parents with kids in elementary through high school planned to spend an average of $848.90 on clothing, electronics and school supplies in 2021, the most recent year available.

Some shoppers will get a little relief as 18 states have tax-free holidays coming up in July and August, saving consumers from paying sales tax on certain school-related items.

Now, you may not save a ton of money by shopping during tax-free holidays. For example, if you bought $500 worth of clothes, shoes and school supplies during Florida’s tax-free weekend in a county where the sales tax is 6%, you would save about $30. But what parent wouldn’t want to save 30 bucks?

And if you use the tax-free holidays in conjunction with smart budgeting strategies and comparison shopping, you’ll save even more on your back-to-school supplies.

Some states’ tax-free holidays are held over a weekend, while others are a week long. Each state has different criteria for what merchandise won’t be taxed, and many states require the purchases to be under a certain price threshold.

And if you live in Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire or Oregon, every day is a holiday — those states don’t have a sales tax.

Tax-Free Weekends: When, Where and What

The 18 states that have back-to-school tax-free holidays this year are Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

Alabama

When: July 15-17

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes – less than $100 per item.
  • School supplies – less than $50 per item.
  • Computers, software, computer supplies – less than $750.
  • Books – less than $30 per item.

Arkansas

When: August 6-7

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — less than $100 per item.
  • Clothing accessories — less than $50 per item.
  • School supplies — no price threshold, but must be on the state’s list of approved items.
  • Computers and electronic devices — no price threshold, but must be on the state’s list of approved items.

Connecticut

When: August 21-27

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — less than $100 per item.

Florida

When: July 25-August 7

What is tax-free:

  • Computers and related equipment — $1,500 or less per item.
  • Clothing, accessories and shoes — $100 or less per item.
  • School supplies — $50 or less per item.

Illinois

When: August 5-14

What is tax-free

  • Sales tax reduced by 5 percentage points on clothing and shoes less than $125 per item.
  • School supplies also receive the sales tax reduction but do not have a price limit.

Iowa

When: August 5-6

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — less than $100 per item.
A person shops for a book bag.
Getty Images

Maryland

When: August 14-20

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — $100 or less per item.
  • Bookbags/backpacks — the first $40 is tax-free.

Massachusetts

When: August 13-14

What is tax-free:

  • Most consumer products — $2,500 or less per item.
  • Clothing — Massachusetts does not charge any sales tax on clothes under $175 year round.

Mississippi

When: July 29-30

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing, shoes and school supplies — less than $100 per item.

Missouri

When: August 5-7

What is tax-free:

  • Partial sales tax may still be charged in some areas.
  • Clothing and shoes — $100 or less per item.
  • School supplies — $50 or less per purchase (exception: graphing calculators must be $150 or less).
  • Computers and related equipment — $1,500 or less per item.
  • Computer software — $350 or less.

New Mexico

When: August 5-7

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing, accessories and shoes — less than $100 per item.
  • School supplies — less than $30 per item (exceptions: backpacks, maps and globes must be under $100 and calculators must be under $200).
  • Computers — $1,000 or less per item.
  • Computer hardware — $500 or less per item.

Ohio

When: August 5-7

What is tax-free:

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

Oklahoma

When: August 5-7

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — less than $100 per item.

South Carolina

When: August 5-7

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing, accessories and shoes — no price threshold.
  • School supplies — no price threshold.
  • Computers and related equipment — no price threshold.
  • Bedding, pillows, bath towels, wash cloths and shower curtains — no price threshold.
  • Books and musical instruments — no price threshold (if they are for school assignments).
A little girl tries on shoes.
Getty Images

Tennessee

When: July 29-31

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — $100 or less per item.
  • School supplies — $100 or less per item.
  • Computers — $1,500 or less per item.

Texas

When: August 5-7

What is tax-free:

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

Virginia

When: August 5-7

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes — $100 or less per item.
  • School supplies — $20 or less per item.

West Virginia

When: August 5-8

What is tax-free:

  • Clothing and shoes – less than $125 per item.
  • School supplies – less than $50 per item.
  • Computers – less than $500 per item.
  • School instruction material – less than $20 per item.
  • Sports supplies – less than $150 per item.

Nicole Dow is a former senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Senior writer Robert Bruce contributed to this article. 







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