Smart Buying

2013 Sales Tax Holidays for Back-to-School Shopping

Shop tax-free in these states to save on clothing, school supplies, computers and more.

Families with children in kindergarten through 12th grade spent nearly $690, on average, on school-related items last year, according to the National Retail Federation. So it's no surprise that many of the parents surveyed by NRF this year said they're looking for ways to keep back-to-school costs down -- with 48% planning to shop during sales, 37% planning to use coupons and 37% planning to buy generic rather than name-brand items.

All of those strategies can help save money, especially if done in conjunction with a sales-tax holiday. This year, at least 17 states will have sales-tax holidays in July or August that will allow consumers to make noncommercial purchases of back-to-school items, such as clothing, computers and school supplies, tax-free. Each state has its own rules about what is exempt, and a few allow cities and counties to decide whether they want to lift their sales taxes along with the state -- so some consumers could still get hit with a local tax. But savings for back-to-school shoppers could still be significant. To find out which states will have sales-tax holidays and what will be exempt from taxes, see the list below.

JULY

Mississippi: July 26-27. Purchases of clothing and footwear less than $100 per item exempt. More details.

AUGUST

Alabama: August 2-4. Purchases of computers (single purchase up to $750), clothing (up to $100 per item), school supplies ($50 per item) and books ($30 per item) exempt. See a complete list of tax-exempt items and a list of cities and counties that will exempt items from local sales tax.

Arkansas: August 3-4. Purchases of clothing and footwear less than $100 per item, clothing accessories less than $50 per item and school supplies are exempt. See a complete list of tax-exempt items.

Connecticut: August 18-24. Purchases of clothing and footwear less than $300 per item exempt. See examples of tax-free items.

Florida: August 2-4. Purchases of clothing ($75 per item) and school supplies ($15 per item) exempt. Florida added purchases of computers and computer accessories that are $750 or less per item to its list of exempt items this year. See a list of tax-exempt items.

Georgia: August 9-10. Purchases of clothing ($100 per item), computers and related accessories (single purchases up to $1,000) and school supplies ($20 per item) exempt. More details.

Iowa: August 2-3. Purchases of clothing and footwear less than $100 per item exempt. See a complete list of tax-exempt items.

Louisiana: August 2-3. The exemption applies to the first $2,500 of the purchase price of most individual items. More details.

Maryland: August 11-17. Purchases of clothing and footwear $100 or less per item exempt. See a list of exempt items.

Missouri: August 2-4. Purchases of clothing (up to $100 per item), computers (up to $3,500), computer peripherals (up to $3,500), computer software (up to $350) and school supplies (up to $50 per purchase) exempt. More details.

New Mexico: August 2-4. Purchases of clothing (less than $100 per item), school supplies (less than $30 per item), computers ($1,000 limit) and computer hardware ($500 limit) exempt. See a list of tax-exempt items.

North Carolina: August 2-4. Purchases of clothing (up to $100 per item), computers ($3,500 per item), computer supplies ($250 per item), school supplies ($100 per item) and sports equipment ($50 per item) exempt. See a list of exempt items.

Oklahoma: August 2-4. Purchases of clothing and footwear less than $100 per item exempt. See a list of tax-exempt items.

South Carolina: August 2-4. All purchases of clothing, footwear, computers, linens and school supplies exempt. See a list of tax-exempt items.

Tennessee: August 2-4. Purchases of clothing ($100 or less per item), computers ($1,500 or less) and school supplies ($100 or less per item) exempt. More details.

Texas: August 9-11. Purchases of clothing, footwear, backpacks and school supplies less than $100 per item exempt. More details.

Virginia: August 2-4. Purchases of clothing and footwear ($100 or less per item) and school supplies ($20 or less per item) exempt. See a list of tax-exempt items.

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