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No Sales Tax This Weekend: Which States Are Pausing Taxes for Back-to-School Shopping?

States are holding "sales tax holidays" to counter inflation. Find out if your state is dropping its sales tax this weekend.

A laptop, notebook and other school supplies on a yellow background
Many states are pausing or reducing sales taxes this weekend to cushion the blow of back-to-school shopping.
CNET

With record-high inflation pushing up prices at stores, it's no surprise that shopping for school supplies this year is causing financial stress. A CNET survey in late July found that inflation is impacting the back-to-school shopping plans for 85% of shoppers, and 47% plan on buying only essential items.

One bright spot in these inflationary times is that many states are pausing or reducing their sales taxes -- some for a weekend, others for a full week or even longer -- on specific spending categories like books, computers, clothing and athletic gear. You'll need to check your state website for the exact list of categories that are included.

These "sales tax holidays" can help shoppers save a bit of money while buying school supplies. It's also a great time to make purchases of eligible items, even if you or your kids aren't going back to school. 

Eighteen states are holding sales tax holidays this summer, though the dates for Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee have already passed. See our map and state-by-state descriptions below to find out if your state is participating, when sales taxes are being paused or reduced, and what items are tax-free.

For more ways to save money, find out if your state is offering a gas tax holiday or sending tax rebate checks.

Tax-free dates and deals, by state

Arkansas

Dates: Aug. 6 to 7, 2022 

Tax-free items

  • Clothing and shoes: $100 or less per item
  • School accessories: $50 or less per item
  • Computers and selected school supplies
  • View the full list of items on the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration website

Connecticut

Dates: Aug. 21 to 27, 2022

Tax-free items

  • Clothing and shoes: $100 or less per item, excluding athletic gear and uniforms
  • View the full list of items on the Connecticut Department of Revenue website

Florida

Dates: July 25 to Aug. 7, 2022

Tax-free items

  • Clothing and shoes: $60 or less per item
  • Select accessories: $60 or less per item
  • School supplies: $15 or less per item
  • Computers: Tax-free for the first $1,000 spent
  • View the full list of items on the Florida Department of Revenue website

Illinois

Dates: Aug. 5 to 14, 2022

Reduced-tax items

  • School supplies and clothing items totaling under $125 will receive a 5% sales tax reduction
  • View the full list of items on the Illinois Department of Revenue website

Iowa

Dates: Aug. 5 to 6, 2022

Tax-free items

  • Clothing and shoes: $100 or less per item, excluding athletic gear, backpacks and handbags
  • View the full list of items on the Iowa Department of Revenue website

Maryland

Dates: Aug. 14 to 20, 2022

Tax-free items

  • Clothing and shoes: $100 or less per item
  • Backpacks: Tax-free for the first $40 spent
  • View the full list of items on the Comptroller of Maryland website

Massachusetts

Dates: Aug. 13 to 14, 2022

Tax-free items

  • Retail items purchased for personal use (business purchases excluded): $2,500 or less, excluding meals, motor vehicles, motorboats, gas, electricity, tobacco, marijuana products and alcoholic beverages). 
  • View the full list of items on the Massachusetts Department of Revenue website

Missouri

Dates: Aug. 5 to 7, 2022

Tax-free items

  • Clothing: $100 or less per item
  • School supplies: $50 or less per item
  • Computer software: $350 or less per item
  • Personal computers: $1,500 or less per item
  • Graphing calculators: $150 or less per item
  • View the full list of items on the Missouri Department of Revenue website

New Mexico

Dates: Aug. 5 to 7, 2022

Tax-free items

  • Clothing and shoes: $100 or less per item
  • Computers: $1,000 or less per item
  • Computer software: $500 or less per item
  • School supplies: $30 or less per item
  • View the full list of items on the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue website

Ohio

Dates: Aug. 5 to 7, 2022

Tax-free items

  • Clothing: $75 or less per item
  • School supplies and books: $20 or less per item
  • View the full list of items on the Ohio Department of Taxation website

Oklahoma

Dates: Aug. 5 to 7, 2022

Tax-free items

  • Clothing and shoes: $100 or less per item, excluding athletic gear and uniforms
  • View the full list of items on the Oklahoma Tax Commission website

South Carolina

Dates: Aug. 5 to 7, 2022

Tax-free items

  • Clothing and shoes 
  • Select accessories
  • School supplies
  • Computers
  • View the full list of items on the South Carolina Department of Revenue website

Texas

Dates: Aug. 5 to 7, 2022

Tax-free items

  • Clothing and shoes: $100 or less per item
  • School supplies: $100 or less per item
  • View the full list of items on the Texas Comptroller website

Virginia

Dates: Aug. 5 to 7, 2022

Tax-free items

  • Clothing and shoes: $100 or less per item
  • School supplies: $20 or less per item
  • Energy Star, WaterSense and hurricane preparedness items (with qualifying limits)
  • View the full list of items on the Virginia Department of Taxation website

West Virginia

Dates: Aug. 5 to 8, 2022

Tax-free items

  • Clothing: $125 or less per item
  • Certain school supplies: $50 or less per item
  • School books and instructional materials: $20 or less per item
  • Laptop and tablets: $500 or less per item
  • Sports equipment: $150 or less per item
  • View the full list of items on the West Virginia State Tax Department website

States with sales tax holidays that have passed

Alabama

Dates: July 15 to 17, 2002 (passed)

Tax-free items:

  • Most clothing under $100 -- including pants, shirts shoes, coats and school uniforms -- as well as diapers. 
  • Sports and recreational equipment and clothing accessories are not included in the tax-free weekend. 

Mississippi

Dates: July 29 to 30, 2022 (passed)

Tax-free items

  • Clothing and shoes: $100 or less per item
  • School supplies: $100 or less per item
  • View the full list of items on the Mississippi Department of Revenue website

Tennessee

Dates: July 29 to 31, 2022 (passed)

Tax-free items

  • Clothing and shoes: $100 or less per item, excluding handbags, jewelry and sports gear
  • School and art supplies: $100 or less per item
  • Laptops, tablets and computers: $1,500 or less per item
  • View the full list of items on the Tennessee Department of Revenue website

States that don't have any sales tax

  • Alaska
  • Delaware
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • Oregon

Read more: 85% of Americans Say Inflation Taking a Bite Out of Back-to-School Shopping

What is a tax holiday?

A tax holiday, also called a tax-free weekend or week, refers to a period of time when qualifying items are exempt from sales tax. Some states hold tax-free holidays annually, and a few even host several tax-free events throughout the year. Most states that participate in tax holidays hold an event in the summer that aligns with back-to-school shopping. 

Do tax-free weekends include online sales?

Yes, online purchases for state residents made during their sales tax holiday will be tax-free, even through large online retailers like Amazon. Just make sure you follow your state's guidelines for qualifying items.

What happens if I buy a qualifying item that's over the dollar limit?

This varies by state. In Maryland for example, the first $40 spent on a backpack is tax-free. If you were to spend $60 on a backpack, you would only be taxed for $20. However, in a state like Massachusetts, if you go over the price limit -- $2,500 for all qualifying purchases -- the entire item is subject to sales tax. We recommend reviewing your state's full item list and rules to plan accordingly.

Do all cities in a state holding a tax holiday participate?

Most states require all cities and businesses therein to participate in tax-free holidays. AlabamaFlorida and Missouri do not.

Can you save money by shopping during a tax holiday?

You can save money by avoiding sales tax during a tax holiday, particularly in states with high average state and local sales tax rates like Tennessee (9.55%), Arkansas (9.51%) and Alabama (9.22%). That said, you'll want to make sure you stick to a budget to avoid overspending and do your research on back-to-school deals. Some stores may offer lower prices on clothing, supplies and computers than you might receive by paying full price during a tax holiday.