Attention, Shoppers: Plan Ahead for Sales Tax Holidays

Anyone who loves to shop should consider timing their purchases to coincide with sales tax holidays; while only 16 states offer them, some shopping aficionados travel to take advantage of these tax-free windows.

What is a sales tax holiday?Some states’ tax holidays have complicated terms. Many of them cap the amount you can purchase tax free, often setting different limits on different types of products. And Louisiana reduces the sales tax by two percentage points rather than completely waiving the tax.

It’s a good idea to find out when your state’s tax holidays occur so you can plan your shopping trips accordingly. As soon as you know when the next tax holiday near you is coming up, start looking at ads for your favorite retailers to see whether they’re offering additional promotions.

Also, try to write a shopping list ahead of time so you don’t go overboard during the sales tax holiday — otherwise you effectively wipe out any savings you would have incurred from not having to pay sales tax.

Sales Tax Holidays by State

The table below provides a rundown on the sales tax holidays offered in each of the 16 particpating states, including specific terms, types of products included, dates offered this year, and links to the respective state tax authority websites. As you can see, the 2017 holidays already occurred, but you can find out next year’s dates online if you bookmark this webpage on the U.S. Federation Tax Administrators website, which is where we obtained the chart below.

 

State

 

Days
 

Items Included
 

Maximum Cost
1stYear
 

2017
Dates
 

Information Links *
Alabama 3 hurricane preparedness
generators – $1,000
supplies – $60
2012 February 24-26 http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/
Alabama 3 clothing – $100
computers – $750 
school supplies – $50 
books – $30
2006 July 21-23 http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/
Arkansas 2 clothing – $100
school supplies
2011 August 5-6 http://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/
Connecticut
7
clothing and footwear – $100
2001
August 20-26 http://www.ct.gov/drs/
Florida
2
Disaster Preparedness
generators – $750
batteries – $30
fuel containers – $25
flashlights – $20
2017
June 2-4 http://floridarevenue.com/
Florida
3

clothing – $60
supplies – $15
computers – $750

2007+
August 4-6 http://floridarevenue.com/
Iowa
2
clothing – $100
2000
August 4-5 https://tax.iowa.gov/
Louisiana
2
hurricane preparedness
supplies – first $1,500
(2% rate reduction)
2008
May 27-28 http://www.revenue.louisiana.gov/
Louisiana
2
Annual Holiday
all TPP – $2,500
(2% rate reduction)
2007
August 4-5 http://www.revenue.louisiana.gov/
Louisiana
3
firearms, ammunition and hunting supplies
(2% rate reduction)
2009
September 1-3 http://www.revenue.louisiana.gov/
Maryland 3 energy star products 2011 February 18-20 http://www.comp.state.md.us/
Maryland 7 clothing & footwear-$100 2010 August 13-19 http://www.marylandtaxes.com/
Mississippi
2
clothing & footwear – $100
2009
July 28-29 http://www.dor.ms.gov/
Mississippi 3 firearms, ammunition and hunting supplies 2014 August 25-27 http://www.dor.ms.gov/
Missouri 7 energy star products – $1,500 2009 April 19-25 http://dor.mo.gov/
Missouri 3 clothing – $100
computers – $1,500
school supplies – $50
2004 August 4-6 http://dor.mo.gov/
New Mexico 3 clothing – $100
computers – $1,000
computer equip. – $500
school supplies – $30
2005 August 4-6 http://www.tax.newmexico.gov
Ohio
3
clothing – $75
school supplies – $20
2015
August 4-6 http://www.tax.ohio.gov/
Oklahoma
3
clothing – $100
2007
August 4-6 http://www.tax.ok.gov/
South Carolina
3
clothing
school supplies
computers
other
2000
August 4-6 http://www.sctax.org/
Tennessee
3
clothing – $100 
school supplies – $100
computers – $1,500
2006
July 28-30 http://tn.gov/revenue/
Texas
3

generators – $3,000
storm devices – $300
preparedness items – $75

2016
April 22-24 http://comptroller.texas.gov
Texas
3
energy star products 
air conditioners – $6,000; other – $2,000
2008
May 27-29 http://comptroller.texas.gov/
Texas
3
clothing, backpacks and school supplies- $100
1999
August 11-13 http://comptroller.texas.gov/
Virginia
3
clothing – $100
school supplies – $20
energy star products – $2,500
hurricane preparedness items – $60
generators – $1,000
2006
August 4-6 http://www.tax.virginia.gov/

(updated June 16, 2017)
+ Florida first held a sales tax holiday for school supplies in 2007. This was not re-enacted in 2008-09.  Georgia first held a school supply holiday in 2004 and energy efficiency holiday in 2006. They were not re-enacted in 2010-11.

Economic Benefits

Sales tax holidays actually have benefits that go beyond your own pocketbook; the days help stimulate the economy on a local level.

Speaking of which, local economic issues can impact the status of different states’ sales tax holidays from one year to the next, so don’t assume that any state offering a tax holiday this year will do so again next year. Three states have gotten rid of their sales tax holidays since the peak participation rate of 19 states in 2010.

On the other hand, there are four states that essentially have year-round sales tax holidays on everything. Alaska, Montana, Nevada and Oregon have no sales tax at all — which is worth keeping in mind if you want to shop tax free but can’t travel on any of the dates that the sales tax hoidays are offered in the 16 states mentioned in this article.

Readers, what kind of bargains have you enjoyed from shopping during a sales tax holiday?

Inforgraphic showing sales tax holidays.

Source: The Tax Foundation