2019 Tax-Free Weekends
Save on back-to-school necessities and more during tax holidays
Whether you’re buying crayons or computers or you’re shopping for yourself or your children, back-to-school purchases can put a dent in your budget. Thankfully, many states have tax holidays to help ease the burden.
Sixteen states will offer tax-free periods in 2019. Shoppers can buy school supplies, clothing and more—in some cases much more—without paying traditional sales tax. And with good reason.
Back-to-School Is Big Business
The National Retail Federation expects shoppers to spend a record $80.7 billion this year gearing up to get back in the classroom. The retail trade association’s estimate averages out to almost $700 for households with school-age children. That number jumps to nearly $1,000 for families with children headed to college.
Quite a jolt to begin the school year.
But tax-free weekends can offer short-term opportunities. Take Texas, for example. The state’s sales tax is 6.25%—and localities are allowed to tack on an additional 2% charge.
Say you’re shopping for a third-grader. You pack your cart with enough pencils to meet the NRF’s $700 average for K-12 families. If you make that purchase during the state’s sales tax holiday, you could save $57.50. Not enough to knock out college tuition—but it’s a start. Or a tank of gas. Or enough to pay it forward by donating to a classroom or students in need.
Beyond the Classroom
These temporary tax havens aren’t just for parents and college students. Tax-free weekends may coincide with back-to-school shopping, but they aren’t limited to it. All shoppers—whether they have kids or not—are eligible during tax holidays.
Some states also make computers, home appliances and even baby diapers eligible. So find your state below, and investigate whether now is the right time to make that major purchase you’ve been considering.
2019 Tax-Free Weekends
Here’s the full list of the 16 states with tax-free weekends in 2019. Be sure to visit your state’s official website for the latest information before you go shopping.
Alabama exempts computers and software under $750, articles of clothing under $100 and school supplies under $50. If you missed this year’s (July 19-21), look out for the state’s weather preparedness tax holiday next February.
Arkansas holds its tax-free weekend August 3 and 4. The state offers broad exemptions for clothing and school supplies, but computers and related equipment aren’t eligible.
The Nutmeg State goes big with its tax holiday, extending it for a week. Connecticut will hold its 2019 tax-free period from August 18–24.
Florida also features an extended tax-free holiday. It lasts from August 2 to August 6 and includes exemptions for school supplies (under $15), clothing and accessories (under $60) and computers (under $1,000).
Iowa’s annual tax-free weekend is limited to the first Friday and Saturday of August. This year, that means August 2 and 3. There are no electronics exemptions, so you may have to wait on a new tablet.
This year’s tax-free holiday is from August 11 to August 17. Maryland exempts clothing and apparel sold for less than $100 and backpacks under $40. The state has a separate tax holiday in February to encourage residents to buy home appliances that are more energy efficient.
Massachusetts may be new to the tax-free game, but it makes up for it with a $2,500 cap on a broad list of eligible items. This year, the state’s second tax-free holiday, meals are exempt—but not alcoholic beverages consumed alongside. It takes place August 17–18.
Mississippi goes tax free July 26–27. Exemptions apply across the board to eligible clothing, footwear and school supplies selling for less than $100.
The Show-Me State goes tax free August 2–4. But not all localities are required to participate. The department of revenue’s website (above) has a full list of cities, counties and districts that declined to participate.
New Mexico bills its tax-free weekend (August 2–4) as a bonanza. Unlike in some other states, retailers are allowed to absorb the tax on nonqualifying items, which expands the pool of potential savings.
The Buckeye State is another relative newcomer. Clothing priced under $75, school supplies sold for less than $20 and instructional materials less than $20 are all eligible from August 2 to August 4.
Purchases on eligible items priced below $100 are exempt from state, city, county and local sales taxes from August 2–3.
Say goodbye, for a few days at least, to South Carolina’s 6% sales tax. The state claims shoppers have saved between $2 million and $3 million during single, previous tax-free weekends. This year’s is August 2–4.
Tax-free weekend starts as soon as the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. on July 26, and it runs until 11:59 p.m. on July 28. There’s no tax on computers priced $1,500 or less. You can also expect tax savings on sub-$100 items including clothes, footwear, school supplies and art supplies.
If you decide your kids needs more than the cartful of pencils previously cited, you can also find tax savings on most clothing, shoes, school supplies and backpacks priced below $100. This year’s tax-free weekend lasts from August 9 to August 11.
The commonwealth’s three-day tax holiday runs August 2–4. Virginia extends eligible items to include products for hurricane and emergency preparedness (generators, chainsaws, etc.) and items that are energy efficient (refrigerators, air conditioners, toilets).
If you didn’t see your state listed, remember tax-free holidays are always in flux. Louisiana, for example, in 2018 put its tax-free weekends on hold until 2025. Five states (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon) don’t have any sales tax at all—every day’s a holiday when you think of it that way.
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