Sixteen states offer some form of a sales tax holiday, commonly known as a “tax-free weekend.” And considering sales tax reaches up to 10.25% 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 staring down a spend of 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!)
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. Participating states set their own limits on how much you can spend without paying sales tax.
The term “tax-free holiday” also can also include hurricane preparedness 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.
When is tax-free weekend? Use this cheat sheet to find out which states offer it and when.
(Just click to open the table up and get the links to each U.S. States’ website with more details about tax-free weekend. )
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. See the best online deals here and stack those savings!
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.
See our favorite Amazon deals.
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, Oklahoma and Texas tax-free weekend gives parents the opportunity to stock up on essentials like baby clothes and diapers. Before you shop, check our baby deals for even more savings.
Pay no sales tax on all retail items during Massachusetts’ tax-free weekend.
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 car seats, wedding dresses, or even a new TV.
If you spend more than $2,500 on an item, you’ll be responsible for 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. So for example, if you need to buy a wedding dress on tax-free weekend, make sure you don’t spend more than $2,500 on it!
Also, alcohol, tobacco, restaurant meals, vehicles, etc. don’t qualify for the sales tax holiday.
Massachusetts isn’t the only state not charging sales tax on most retail items during back-to-school tax-free weekend. Check the exemptions in your state as well.
Buy your school computer during the tax-free weekend in Florida.
Not just Florida, though — computers are exempt from sales tax up to a certain amount in a few states. In Florida and New Mexico, it’s a $1,000 limit. If you live in Florida, you pay 6% sales tax, so that’s up to $60 savings.
If the computer you’re purchasing is over $1,000, you’ll just have to pay tax on the amount over the limit. Buying a $1,300 Apple computer? You’ll end up paying about $18 in tax during tax-free weekend in Florida.
Tennessee and Missouri offer no sales tax on a computer purchase up to $1,500!
See all the best computer deals.
On tax-free weekends in Texas, layaway is fair game.
As long as you’re either 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 some 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 to see what your (participating) state does.
A few states (like Missouri) leave it up to each county to decide on participation.
This means that whether or not they’re offering a sales tax holiday depends on the county within the state. If you see your state is participating, double-check that your county is also participating.
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.
Maryland’s sales tax holiday actually lasts a whole week!
Connecticut and Florida’s tax-free weekends have been extended to weeklong events as well!
You have all week to shop clothing and footwear without paying sales tax.
See the best apparel deals.
Hey ho, if you live in Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, or Oregon, there’s no sales tax anyway.
You already know this 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?!