This is tax-free weekend in many states. This means that shoppers will be able to buy items without having to pay sales tax. The exact rules for tax free weekend vary from state to state, with some states being more lenient in terms of what items qualify for the tax-free specials. Most states offer a tax free holiday so parents can buy back-to-school items at prices a little cheaper than normal — but the sales definitely aren’t limited to back-to-school items only. We’re including tips below to help you get the most out of tax free weekend.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Ten States Are Participating This Weekend
Only 10 states are participating in the tax free holiday this weekend, Friday, August 4 through Sunday, August 6. (Note: This story earlier said only nine were participating, but Louisiana was left out of the list. It is now added.) The participating states are:
- Arkansas: Aug. 5-6
- Florida: August 4-6
- Iowa: Aug. 4-5
- Louisiana: Aug. 4-5 (Louisiana’s may be the most expansive one this weekend, but it only decreases the sales tax to 3 percent, it doesn’t eliminate it.)
- Missouri: Aug. 4-6
- New Mexico: Aug. 4-6
- Ohio: Aug. 4-6
- Oklahoma: Aug. 4-6
- South Carolina: Aug. 4-6
- Virginia: Aug. 4-6
States that are having tax-free weekend later are Connecticut (Aug. 20-26), and Maryland (Aug. 13-19). Texas is choosing a different weekend this time around: August 11-13, which is highly unusual for the state. And Louisiana is having a second sales tax weekend Sept. 1-3, applying only to the sale of firearms, ammo, and hunting supplies.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts is still deciding if it is having a tax-free weekend this month, but so far it’s not looking good. (An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Massachusetts was having a tax-free weekend later this month.) Gov. Baker is considering making the weekend of Aug. 19 tax-free for the purchase of goods that cost $2,500 or less. The bill for the holiday was filed at the Statehouse just this past Wednesday and needs the approval of state lawmakers, who are currently on recess that might last until September. They’ve been averse to the idea so far.
Some states already had their tax-free weekend. That includes Alabama (July 21-23), Mississippi (July 28-29), and Tennessee (July 28-30).
2. Only Certain Items Will Qualify
Each state has its own rules about what items qualify for tax free purchases. It’s definitely not a free-for-all. Here’s a quick look at what qualifies for tax-free weekend this weekend and in upcoming weekends in August, according to Deal News. Click on each state’s name for more complete information. Note that each of these limits are per item, not total spent. So if a limit says “clothing up to $100,” that typically means up to $100 per clothing item.
- Arkansas: Arkansas has no limit this year on school supplies. Clothing up to $100, clothing accessories and equipment up to $50.
- Connecticut – Clothing and footwear up to $100.
- Florida – School supplies up to $15 and clothing up to $60. (Learn more about Florida’s tax-free weekend here.)
- Iowa: Clothing and footwear up to $100 tax-free.
- Louisiana: This sales tax holiday applies to the first $2,500 of any eligible item. But it’s a tax reduction, not a tax-free holiday. See the link for more details.
- Maryland: Clothing and footwear up to $100 tax-free.
- Massachusetts: Clothing and footwear up to $100 tax-free.
- Missouri: Clothing up to $100; school supplies up to $50; computer software up to $350; computers up to $1,500; computer peripherals up to $1,500; graphing calculators up to $150.
- New Mexico: School supplies up to $30; clothing up to $100; computers up to $1,000; computer equipment up to $500
- Ohio: Clothing up to $75; school supplies up to $20; school instructional material up to $20.
- Oklahoma: Clothing and shoes up to $100.
- South Carolina: South Carolina covers more items for tax free weekend than many states, including clothing, bedding items, computers, printers, and bathroom decor.
- Texas: Pretty much any clothing, backpacks or school supplies that cost up to $100 qualify. (Learn more about Texas’ tax-free weekend here.)
- Virginia: Clothing up to $100 per item and school supplies up to $20 per item qualify. Emergency preparedness items also qualify.
3. Some Stores Will Be Open Later During Tax-Free Weekend
Check online to see what hours your favorite stores will be open on tax-free weekend. Many stores will be open earlier or later than their normal hours in order to take advantage of the extra shoppers. But before you go shopping, make sure that you check the deals and the items that qualify closely. Don’t go on a shopping spree for items that you don’t need, only to find out later that not everything actually qualifies.
4. You Can Take Advantage of Tax-Free Weekend Online or Through Layaway
You don’t have to shop in-store to take advantage of tax-free weekend. You can also purchase some items tax-free online. Many stores will let you put items on layaway and still get them tax free. But check your state’s rules, because not every state allows layaway items to qualify.
You may also have an easier time if you make a list ahead of time that details everything you need to buy. I Heart the Mart provides a worksheet that lists prices from typical school supplies, along with how much the items would cost from Walmart. This was last updated in 2013, but can still give you an idea of what you should be looking for.
5. Shoppers Should Be Extra Nice to People Working Retail This Weekend
Tax-free weekend can be incredibly busy and very “taxing” for people who work in retail. So if you’re planning on shopping this weekend, take time to be extra nice to the people who are working at the stores where you’re shopping. They will probably be overwhelmingly busy all weekend and will appreciate it if you provide a dose of compassion and patience.