Where to Do Your Tax-Free Shopping This August

woman standing with shopping bags at mall

Back-to-school shopping becomes a little less taxing this August for consumers in many states. A number of states have approved a sales tax holiday, allowing consumers to purchase certain items without paying the corresponding taxes. This “holiday’’ may not be marked with parties and cards but it's truly worth celebrating for bargain hunters looking to reduce their expenses.

Not all states host tax-free holidays. Some have them different times of the year, or not at all. But August tends to be a popular month for states to give shoppers a tax break.

States have different rules and stipulations. In Massachusetts, where Hanscom Federal Credit Union's headquarters is based, the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax is waived on Aug. 17 and Aug. 18. Meals and retail items of up to $2,500, purchased in Massachusetts for personal use on these two days, will be exempt from sales tax. Although the Bay State had previously wavered on whether to host annual tax-free weekends, lawmakers signed legislation in 2018 that established a sales tax holiday for one weekend each year.

So shop until you drop, then rejuvenate with a reduced-cost meal.

But remember: Only buy what you truly need. The tax is eliminated, but the items are not free. As always when shopping, use good judgment and bring your list to avoid impulse purchases.

Here’s a look at what other states are doing this August:

In Arkansas, Aug. 3 and Aug 4 are set aside for the tax-free purchase of certain school supplies, art supplies, instructional supplies and clothing.

Connecticut extends its tax-free holiday for a full week, from Aug. 18 through Aug. 24. Items subject to tax exemption include footwear and clothing that costs less than $100. 

Florida also extends its tax-free period beyond a weekend, from Aug. 2 to Aug. 6. Tax-free items include certain school supplies that cost less than $15 per item, clothing, footwear and certain accessories selling for $60 or less per item and computers and specific items that cost $1,000 or less.

Iowa holds its tax holiday Aug. 2 through August 3. Clothing and footwear costing less than $100 are exempt from sales taxes on those days.

In Missouri, the sales tax holiday runs from Aug. 2 to Aug. 4 and includes specific back-to-school purchases, including clothing, school supplies and computers.

Maryland extends its tax-free period from Aug. 11 to Aug. 17. Clothing and footwear that costs $100 or less are not taxable during that period. The first $40 of the cost of a bookbag or backpack is also tax-free.

New Mexico hosts tax-free shopping Aug. 2 through Aug. 4. Qualifying items include clothing and shoes priced at less than $100; desktop, laptop, tablets or notebook computers less than $1,000; and related computer hardware of $500 or less. Unlike many states, purchases are not limited to personal use; general education classroom school supplies of less than $30 per unit also qualify for the tax break. 

Ohio’s tax-free weekend is Aug. 2 through Aug. 4. Items exempt from sales tax include clothing priced at $75 or less and school supplies and school instructional materials that cost $20 or less. 

Oklahoma holds its tax-free weekend Aug. 2 through Aug. 4. Sales of eligible clothing and shoes priced at less than $100 are exempt from taxes during that period. 

The annual sales tax holiday in South Carolina, from Aug. 2 till Aug. 4, offers tax-free items including clothing, accessories, shoes, backpacks, computers and various back-to-school supplies.

Texas hosts its annual sales tax holiday Aug. 9 until Aug. 11. Most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks, priced at less than $100, qualifies for a tax break. 

Virginia observes a sales tax holiday Aug. 2 through Aug. 4. Eligible items include qualified school supplies at $20 or less per item, qualified clothing and footwear at $100 or less per item, and hurricane and emergency preparedness products, including portable generators at $1,000 or less and gas-powered chainsaws at $350 or less per item. Certain Energy Star or WaterSense products at $2,500 or less per item also qualify.

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About Author

Sandra Quadros Bowles
Sandra Quadros Bowles

Sandy Quadros Bowles is a veteran journalist who has received local, state, and national journalism awards. A resident of New Bedford, MA, she is an animal enthusiast, an avid reader, and an enthusiastic traveler.

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