How to Buy School Supplies Without Paying Sales Tax

The cost of pre-school purchases will rise by about 8% this year, but you can offset that cost by purchasing school supplies during your “tax break” over the next few days. Seventeen states are temporarily exempting school supplies from sales tax this year to save up to 10% on purchases. Here’s what you need to know.

Tax holidays may not only apply to school supplies.

Every year ahead of the school year, some states give consumers a tax credit on clothing, pens, laptops and other regular school supplies, and sometimes computers. In some states, even purchases for disaster preparedness are also exempt from sales tax on items such as generators, plastic sheets, flashlights, and fuel tanks.

Tax holiday policies vary by state.

These exceptions usually fall between August 6-8, although the window for some states (Tennessee, West Virginia) has already passed. For the most part, the tax credit applies to both state and local taxes, but in some states, local governments allow vacation to be waived.

Just be sure to check your state’s specific rules on what counts as “school supplies” as they may be specific and will vary from state to state.

When is your state sales tax holiday?

You can check the details of your condition by clicking the link for each on this list in the CPA Practice Advisor :

Also check out this Lifehacker post for all the ways to get your school supplies for free. And even if you miss this year’s tax break, just be sure to set a recurring calendar reminder to make sure you plan accordingly for years to come.


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