It’s Back-to-School season and that means it’s time to shop for supplies, clothes, and shoes. Those with older kids involved in extracurricular activities may have added expenses. Tax-free weekend allows you to pay the exact price for qualified items and save on taxes.
If someone wants to buy an $19.99 item and only has a $20 bill, it’s covered. No digging around for change to cover the taxes. The 2018 tax-free weekend in Texas is August 10-12.
Anyone can shop and get the tax break on qualified items, not just school-aged kids. A couple of things to know before you go. You cannot get a rain check. Anything that costs $100 or more does not qualify for the tax break. Also, keep those receipts.
Here are four tips to help you make the most of tax-free weekend and back-to-school shopping.
- Check the official list
Not all school supplies and clothing items qualify for the tax break. Items priced at $100 or more are not tax-free. Only certain types of shoes are accepted as stores still charge taxes on cleats. Tennis shoes are exempt from taxes. Cowboy and general-purpose boots are exempt, but not ski boots or overshoes. No one would categorize lunch boxes under school supplies and yet it’s tax exempt.
The Comptroller of Texas posts the official Sales Tax Holiday list. Use this as your tax-free shopping bible. Other resources rely on this list, but not all of them interpret the rules correctly.
You might be surprised by what you find on the list. While kids don’t wear pajamas, robes, swimsuits, and slippers to school, they’re exempt from taxes. Soccer shoes don’t qualify, but soccer socks do. And so do adult diapers.
- Verify store hours
Many Texas shopping centers, malls, and stores extend their hours for the Sales Tax Holiday. It won’t be as wild as the hours on Black Friday, but it’ll give you more time to shop.
You work hard to get to the store as soon as it opens to avoid the biggest crowds. Nothing is more frustrating to arrive as the store’s typical opening time only to find out it opened an hour earlier. So check those hours before you go.
- Avoid lines
You can count on one thing with Black Friday and the Sales Tax Holiday: long lines. The best time to go is as soon as the store opens. Many folks like to sleep in on the weekend. Some people still need to work on Friday, so that morning may have less traffic.
Shop for items you need to try on first before the dressing rooms get crowded. Save supplies for last. You can skip the crowds and traffic altogether by shopping online. Stores with operations in Texas typically charge tax, but not during tax-free weekend. It also gives you an opportunity to shop around and compare prices.
- Make a shopping list
It’s easy to overspend during this shopping weekend. Sometimes you can’t remember if someone needs more shorts or pants. This isn’t the time to try on different sized pants and shoes to confirm current sizes.
Save yourself the headache and try on clothes and shoes before leaving the house to verify sizes. And who wants to buy another package of notebook paper when you already have two unopened ones in the closet?
Saving 8.25 percent in sales tax does not seem like much. After all, that’s only $1.65 in savings on a $20 item. However, many stores reduce their prices for the weekend. A $20 item marked down to $18 means a total savings of $3.65. Buy enough items and it’ll add up.
Good luck with the shopping!