The kids are about to go back to school and that means family expenses are about to hit you hard in the pocketbook. Back-to-school shopping includes a dizzying array of school supplies, textbooks, clothes, backpacks and other items that kids need. School supplies can get pricy, especially if you’re buying for more than one child, but luckily, your state may help you with a special tax-free holiday.

Thankfully, 18 states now offer tax-free holidays in August which allow parents to get a big break on their shopping.

These tips will help you take advantage of the tax-free holidays in your state.

No Tax Holiday

The following states do not offer a tax-free holiday:

Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

However, if you live within 60 minutes of a neighboring state with a tax-free holiday, it could be in your interest to cross the border.

Don’t Forget Online Retail

Online retailers don’t want to get left behind by state sales tax holidays. Amazon’s policy allows you to avoid tax collection for items that it codes as school supplies. Just make sure you shop on Amazon during the corresponding tax-holiday in the state where you live.

Know the Rules

Each state has a different set of rules for what items qualify for a tax-free sale. Some states include basics like clothing, shoes, cosmetics, and jewelry. Some states also include baby supplies (like diapers, blankets, clothes and accessories) in the holiday. Just review the basics by going to your state’s website ahead of time.

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Don’t overlook things like wedding dresses and tuxedos, which are included as tax-free purchases in most states.

Participating States

Here is a list of states that currently offer back-to-school tax free holidays. Remember to review your state’s website to make sure you are up to date on the date and limitations. You’ll save a lot of money, but be aware that the stores will be quite crowded — still, the savings are worth it.


State                         Dates

Alabama                August 5-7
Arkansas               August 6-7
Connecticut           August 21-27
Florida                   August 5-7
Georgia                 July 30-31
Iowa                      August 5-6
Louisiana              August 5-6
Maryland               August 14-20
Mississippi            July 29-30
Missouri                August 5-7
New Mexico          August 5-7
Ohio                      August 5-7
Oklahoma              August 5-7
South Carolina      August 5-7
Tennessee            July 29-30
Texas                    August 5-7
Virginia                August 5-7

 

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Other Tips

  • Make sure you inventory your household before shopping to make sure that you don’t already have some things on hand, like old calculators, clothing, extra paper, etc.
  • Shop for college students by price matching and looking for used books online.
  • If there are some items which will be recurring expenses throughout the school year, use the tax-free days to buy in bulk.
  • For some items, don’t overlook the dollar store, which often sells items that are identical to what is at Wal-Mart or Target.
  • Be sure you check the list for your child’s school so you can buy what they need, and not just what you think they’ll need.

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