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Sales Tax Holidays for Back-to-School Shoppers in 2016

States are offering tax breaks for a limited time on clothing, shoes, school supplies, computers and more.

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Before you give in to the early temptation to dive into back-to-school shopping, find out what your state has in store for you. There may be ways to make your dollar go further.

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To ease the annual financial burden of buying your kids new clothing, school supplies, electronics and dorm gear, many states temporarily suspend levies on non-commercial purchases of specific items. The sales tax holidays usually fall in late summer and last anywhere from a weekend to a full week. Local taxes may still apply.

It’s a welcome relief to the heavy lift of outfitting a return to the classroom. Parents last year expected to spend more than $1,200 for back-to-school items, according to an American Express survey.

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But the tax holiday that’s such a relief to families comes at a cost to state coffers. For that reason, Massachusetts in 2016 is foregoing the annual back-to-school tax relief weekend for the first time since 2009. Lawmakers said the state couldn’t afford to take the estimated $26 million hit this year.

Here’s a rundown of 17 states that have upcoming sales tax holidays and what’s exempted.

Alabama, Aug. 5-7. Clothing $100 or less per article, excluding accessories (such as jewelry and handbags) and protective or recreational equipment (dance shoes, cleats, band instruments and such); single purchases ($750 or less) of computers, computer software and school computer supplies; school and art supplies ($50 or less per item); and books, $30 or less per item.

Arkansas, Aug. 6-7. Clothing and footwear less than $100 per item; clothing accessories and equipment less than $50 per item; and school supplies, art supplies and instructional materials (including textbooks, maps and globes).

Connecticut, Aug. 21-27. Clothing and footwear less than $100 per item (excludes most accessories, protective wear and athletic gear).

Florida, Aug. 5-7. Clothing, footwear, wallets and bags with a sales price of $60 or less per item; school supplies with a sales price of $15 or less per item.

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Georgia, July 30-31. Clothing and footwear with a sale price of $100 or less per item; computers, components and software with a sale price of $1,000 or less per item; and school supplies with a sale price of $20 or less per item.

Iowa, Aug. 5-6. Clothing and footwear less than $100 per item (excluding most accessories and sporting gear).

Louisiana, Aug. 5-6. There’s a partial break on the state sales tax charged on most purchases during the 2016 sales tax holiday. The first $2,500 of a purchased item will be taxed at 3% rather than the full 5% state sales tax.

Maryland, Aug. 14-20. Clothing, footwear and some accessories, $100 or less per item.

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Mississippi, July 29-30. Clothing and footwear (excluding most accessories), $100 or less per item.

Missouri, Aug. 5-7. Clothing $100 or less per item (excluding accessories); school supplies, $50 or less per item; computer software, $350 or less per item; computers and computer peripheral devices, $1,500 or less; and graphing calculators, $150 or less per item.

New Mexico, Aug. 5-7. Clothing and footwear items, less than $100 per item (excluding most accessories, and athletic or protective clothing or footwear); school supplies, less than $30 per item; computers, e-readers that have computing functions, and tablets, $1,000 or less per item; certain computer-related items, $500 or less per item; book bags, backpacks, maps and globes, less than $100 per item; and handheld calculators, less than $200 per item.

Ohio, Aug. 5-7. Clothing priced at $75 or less per item; school supplies and instructional materials priced at $20 or less per item.

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Oklahoma, Aug. 5-7. Clothing and footwear, less than $100 per item (excluding most accessories, and athletic or protective gear).

South Carolina, Aug. 5-7. Clothing and certain accessories; footwear; school supplies; computers, printers and printer supplies and computer software; and certain bed and bath items.

Tennessee, July 29-31. Clothing, $100 or less per item (excludes clothing accessories or equipment); school and art supplies, $100 or less per item; computers, $1,500 or less per item.

Texas, Aug. 5-7. Clothing and footwear, less than $100 per item (excluding accessories, athletic or protective clothing, and rentals of clothing or footwear); backpacks under $100 used by elementary and secondary students; most school supplies, less than $100 per item.

Virginia, Aug. 5-7. Clothing and footwear, $100 or less per item (excludes most accessories, and protective or sporting equipment); school supplies, $20 or less per item.

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