Back-to-school sales tax holidays are offered in these 17 states

Two fewer states are offering families back-to-school sales tax holidays this year even though families are still suffering under the weight of high inflation. 

Seventeen states either have already had or plan sales tax holidays to give families some relief from soaring prices.  That’s down from down 19 last year because Illinois and Virginia bowed out.

Although annual inflation cooled in June to 3% from 9.1% last year, the cost of school supplies has climbed 28% from last year, according to a study by money transfer company WorldRemit. That’s enough to make 54% (up from 46% last year when inflation was at a 40-year high) worry they may not be able to buy all the items their children need for school, a survey of 483 U.S. adults with children attending K-12 schools in July showed. 

“Although parents were willing to endure higher prices last year for replenishing back-to-school items after the pandemic, 18 months of inflation have changed their tune,” said Nick Handrinos, head of Deloitte LLP’s retail and consumer products practice, in a report. “Uneasiness about the economic situation is creating price sensitivity.” 

A popular way to save money each year is to take advantage of sales tax holidays to cut costs, which 66% of parents intend to do, said.  Below is a list of participating states and what’s tax free, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. Rules and dates vary by state so check the state’s website for the most updated information. In some instances, local taxes may still apply, too.   

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July 21-23 

What’s tax-free:  

Clothing: $100 or less per item Computers: $750 or less per item School supplies: up to $50 per item Books: up to $30 each 


August 5-6 

What’s tax free: 

Clothing and shoes: $100 or less per item  Clothing accessory or equipment: $50 or less per item School supplies  Electronic devices, school art supplies, school instructional materials 


August 20-26 

What’s tax-free:  

Clothing and footwear, but not athletic wear: $100 or less per item  


July 24–Aug 6 

What’s tax-free:  

Clothing, footwear, and certain accessories: $100 or less per item Certain school supplies: $50 or less per item  Learning aids and jigsaw puzzles: $30 or less per item Personal computers and certain computer-related accessories: $1,500 or less per item, when purchased for noncommercial home or personal use 


August 4-5 

What’s tax-free:  

Clothing or footwear: less than $100 per item 


August 13-19 

What’s tax free: 

Clothing and footwear: $100 or less Backpack/bookbag: the first $40 


August 12-13 

What’s tax-free: 

Many retail items: $2,500 or less per item Clothing: up to $175 per item 


July 28-29 

What’s tax free: 

Clothing: up to $100 per item 


August 4-6 

What’s tax-free:

Clothing: up to $100 per item School supplies: up to $50 per purchase Computer software: up to $350  Personal computers: up to $1,500 Computer peripheral devices: up to $1,500 Graphing calculators: up to $150 

New Jersey 

August 26- September 4 

What’s tax-free: 

Computers: less than $3,000; School art supplies School computer supplies: less than $1,000; School instructional materials School supplies Sport or recreational equipment sold to individual purchasers for non-business use. 

New Mexico 

August 4-6 

What’s tax-free:  

Clothing or shoes: less than $100 per item Desktop, laptop, tablets or notebook computers: up to $1,000 Related computer hardware: up to $500.  School supplies for use in standard, general-education classrooms: under $30 each   


August 4-6 

What’s tax-free: 

Clothing: up to $75 per item School supplies: up to $20 each School instructional material: up to $20 per item 


August 4-6 

What’s tax-free: 

Clothing: up to $100 per item 

South Carolina 

August 4-6 

What’s tax-free: 

Computers and printers School supplies Clothing and accessories, shoes Certain bed and bath items 


July 28-30 

What’s tax-free: 

Clothing: $100 or less per item  School and art supplies (such as binders, backpacks, crayons, paper, pens, pencils, and rulers, and art supplies such as glazes, clay, paints, drawing pads, and artist paintbrushes): $100 or less per item,  Computers for personal use: $1,500 or less per item  Laptop computers and tablet computers: $1,500 or less per item 


August 11-13 

What’s tax-free: 

Clothing, footwear, school supplies, and backpacks: less than $100 per item    

West Virginia 

August 4-7 

What’s tax-free: 

Clothing: up to $125 per item Laptop and tablet computers: up to $500 each School instruction material: up to $20 per item School supplies: $50 or less per item Sports equipment: $150 or less each 

Best deals:Where to find back-to-school deals: Discounted shopping at Target, Walmart, Staples and more

Why are Illinois and Virginia not offering back-to-school sales tax holidays? 

Virginia’s tax holiday expired on July 1, and its General Assembly didn’t extend the guidelines or pass new ones during its most recent session. So, “there won’t be a 2023 Sales Tax Holiday like we typically have in early August,” a spokesperson said. 

Illinois’ legislatures also didn’t renew its back-to-school tax holiday because inflation’s easing. 

“The Inflation Reduction Act is working as intended, and we are seeing inflation ease throughout the nation,” said Maura Kownacki, spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Revenue. “Governor (J.B.) Pritzker was pleased to provide one-time relief during a period of uniquely high inflation, and with inflation coming down, the latest budget continues to invest in working families with historic investments early childhood education and financial aid for higher education.” 

Illinois, though, continues to offer a 25% education expense tax credit on eligible back-to-school expenses exceeding $250 on individual income tax returns. The total credit cannot exceed $750, regardless of the number of qualifying children. 

Medora Lee is a money, markets, and personal finance reporter at USA TODAY. You can reach her [email protected] and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter for personal finance tips and business news every Monday. 

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