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Eighteen states offer some form of a sales tax holiday, commonly known as a “tax-free weekend.” Considering that sales tax can reach up to 10.75% in some states — like California—these aren’t wimpy savings.
Plus, if you’re like me, you have multiple kids who need clothing, shoes, and school supplies including backpacks, lunch bags, and maybe computers. We’re looking at spending a few hundred dollars this fall!
For this reason, I’ll shamelessly take all the savings wherever I can find them, thank you very much.
(Pssst…speaking of savings, download the KCL app so we can tell you when we see prices drop for back-to-school items!)
1. What is a “tax-free weekend?”
A “tax-free weekend” or sales tax holiday means that you can buy items from certain qualifying categories like clothing, shoes, computers, and school supplies without paying sales tax. States that participate set their own limits on how much you can spend without paying a penny in sales tax.
The term “tax-free holiday” can also include hurricane supplies and Energy Star product savings, too. Those are separate holidays from back-to-school tax-free weekends, and they’re usually in the late winter and early spring. For our purposes, I’m only including tax-free weekends that offer back-to-school savings.
2. When is tax-free weekend this year? Use our cheat sheet to see which states participate and the dates.
(Just click to open the chart and get links to each state’s website for more details about tax-free weekend.)
3. Does tax-free weekend apply to online purchases?
Yes. As long as you make your qualifying online purchase while the sales tax holiday is happening in your state, you won’t pay sales tax, even if your item arrives after the tax-free weekend is over. Don’t just buy any online deal, though. Shop the best online deals here and stack those savings!
4. Does Amazon have a tax-free weekend?
Yes and no. Amazon doesn’t have its own special tax-free weekend. But Amazon will play ball with your state’s tax requirements. So, as long as you’re shopping Amazon during your state’s tax holiday weekend and what you buy qualifies as exempt, you won’t pay tax.
Amazon automatically charges sales tax on items that don’t qualify for your state’s tax-free weekend. Read more about Amazon and sales tax holidays on their website.
See our favorite Amazon deals.
5. Diapers and baby clothes are also exempt from sales tax in some states.
Even if you don’t have school-age kids, you can still take advantage of the tax holiday. For instance, tax-free weekend in Oklahoma and Texas gives parents the opportunity to stock up on essentials like baby clothes and diapers without paying sales tax. Before you shop, check our baby deals for even more savings.
6. Buy your school computer during the tax-free weekend in Florida.
Computers are exempt from sales tax up to a certain amount in Florida and a few other states during tax-free weekend. In Florida, it’s a $1,500 limit. With their 6% sales tax, that’s up to $90 in savings.
If the computer you’re purchasing is over $1,500, you’ll have to pay tax on the amount over the limit.
New Mexico offers no tax on computers up to $1,000, while in Tennessee and Missouri you can buy a computer worth $1,500, tax free!
See all the best computer deals.
7. During tax-free weekends in Texas, layaway is fair game.
As long as you’re making a final layaway payment during a tax-free weekend or you’re choosing an item and setting up a new layaway order, you won’t have to pay sales tax in states like Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, and more.
Other states don’t consider layaway as “qualifying” purchases at all. Check out the tax-free weekend cheat sheet in Tip #2 to see if your state participates.
8. Pay no sales tax on all retail items during Massachusetts’ tax-free weekend.
That’s right—you won’t pay sales tax on most retail items up to $2,500 during Massachusetts’ tax-free weekend. That means you can finally buy those big-ticket items you need during the holiday—like convertible car seats and strollers, wedding dresses, or even a new TV.
But beware: If you spend more than $2,500 on any one item, you’ll be responsible for paying sales tax on the whole amount.
Clothing is an exception to this rule. During tax-free weekend in Massachusetts, if your clothing purchase is under $2,500, you get the entire purchase tax free. If you go over $2,500, then only the first $175 is tax free.
Also, alcohol, tobacco, restaurant meals, vehicles, etc. don’t qualify for the sales tax holiday.
Massachusetts isn’t the only state that offers this perk. Check the exemptions in your state to see if they participate.
9. Illinois’ tax holiday takes 5% off what you’d usually pay in taxes.
Tax-free holiday usually means what it sounds like – you pay no taxes. For Illinois it means the state sales tax is reduced to 1.25% on clothes and back-to-school items. Although it’s not tax-free, it’s a lot less than the 6.25% sales tax that you’d normally pay. That means a $125 buy with taxes cuts down from $132.80 to $126.60. That’s a $6.20 savings thanks to the tax reduction, so we aren’t complaining!
10. A few states (like Missouri) leave it up to each county to decide on participation.
This means that the county you live in may not offer a sales tax holiday, even if your state does. If your state participates in a tax-free weekend, double-check that your county is, too.
If you’re in a county that doesn’t participate, it might be a good excuse for a shopping road trip to a county that does if it’s close enough to you.
11. Maryland’s sales tax holiday actually lasts a whole week!
Tax-free weekends in Florida and Connecticut have been extended to weeklong events as well!
You have all week to shop for clothing and footwear without paying sales tax.
See the best apparel deals.
12. Skip sales tax when you live in Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, or Oregon.
You already know this fact if you live in one of these states. Raise your hand if you cringe whenever you have to buy something in a state with sales tax. Eww right?!