Many back-to-school items are tax exempt during the sales tax holiday
COLLEGE STATION – A Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert is reminding consumers about the state’s annual sales tax holiday scheduled from when stores open on Aug. 9 to midnight Aug. 11.
This is the third year the event, which used to be the first weekend in August, has been held during the second weekend in August, said Joyce Cavanagh, AgriLife Extension specialist in family economics, College Station.
“Set shortly before the start of the school year, this event allows shoppers to purchase most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks sold for less than $100 and save by not paying state sales tax,” she explained. “You can make your purchase from a store in Texas or from an online or catalog seller that does business in the state.”
She said the sales tax exemption applies only to qualifying items bought during the sales tax holiday.
“Items purchased before or after the sales tax holiday do not qualify for exemption,” Cavanagh said. “And there is no tax refund available for items purchased outside this time frame.”
State officials predict Texas consumers will save millions of dollars in state and local sales taxes by shopping this weekend.
But Cavanagh said consumers shouldn’t assume every purchase they make will be tax-free.
“You can buy most footwear and clothing that’s under $100 tax-free, and you don’t need to give the seller an exemption certificate,” she said. “The exemption applies to each eligible individual item that’s less than $100, and there’s no limit to the number of qualifying items you can buy.”
However, Cavanagh said, items used mostly for athletics, such as football pads and helmets, baseball shoes and pants, inline or regular roller skates, ice skates and cleated shoes for biking, bowling, football, golf or baseball are still taxable. Also not included on the tax-free list are such items as purses, jewelry and accessories.
“Of course, computers, laptops and many electronics are also not eligible because they are pretty much always valued at more than $100,” she said.
For a list of the items that do and do not qualify, go to https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/publications/98-490.
Cavanagh said another area where the tax-free weekend may benefit consumers is if they have layaway items.
“You can buy qualifying items tax–free when you make the final payment on an item you’ve already had on layaway or if you place an eligible item on layaway during the tax-free holiday,” she said.
As another tip to consumers, Cavanagh said although shoppers can save money during this weekend, they shouldn’t expect every tax-free item to be a bargain.
“Sometimes consumers are better off if they wait for some items to go on sale rather than purchasing them at full price during the tax-free weekend,” she said. “But you can still save by shopping during the tax-free weekend, provided you make wise choices and don’t get too anxious to buy an item you think may be priced too high.”