BBB Tip: How to Take Advantage of Tax-Free Shopping Days


Many states offer tax-free weekends or tax holidays to encourage spending and give shoppers a price break on must-have supplies. Tax-exempt items might include back-to-school items, disaster preparedness supplies, or other consumer goods. Each state has its own list of qualifying items, usually up to a maximum price. With a bit of planning, you can take advantage of your state’s tax holidays to rack up some serious savings.

How to make the most of a sales tax holiday

  • Find out when your state holds tax-free sales. Visit the Federation of Tax Administrators’ (FTA) website for an up-to-date list of when each state is having its tax holidays. Usually, these sales occur just before the school year begins, but some holidays happen earlier or later in the year.
  • Research what items will be tax exempt. Tax holidays aren’t just for parents of school-aged children. Besides school supplies and electronics, some states offer tax exemptions on tools, energy star products, generators, emergency preparedness items, and even gun safes and hunting supplies. Check the FTA’s website early in the year to see if your state will be waiving taxes on any items you need, particularly high-dollar items like appliances or electronics.
  • Know the cost limits. States usually cap how much an item can cost to be tax exempt. For example, some states allow for tax exemptions on computers that cost up to $1,000. Check your state’s rules to find out what the limits are where you live.
  • Don’t be confused by advertising. Just because a store advertises a “Back-to-School Sale” doesn’t mean the items are tax-free. Double check your state’s dates and tax-free list to be sure.
  • Set your budget before you go shopping. It can be easy to go over budget when you feel like you are getting a great deal on an item. Set your budget before you head to the store.
  • Start with the most expensive items first.Make bigger purchases first to ensure you get the most benefit from tax-free sales. There is often high demand for tax-free items during tax holidays. If you need a new computer and school notebooks, start with the computer and snag it tax-free before it’s out of stock.
  • Do some deal-stacking. Deal-stacking means using several money-saving methods at once to maximize your savings. Look for coupons and cash-back offers you can use during tax-free holidays to save the most.
  • Find out if you can shop tax-free online. Many states offer tax exemptions on online purchases too. Some popular retailers, such as Amazon, automatically take sales taxes off any eligible purchase you make. Check your state’s rules to see if you can shop online during tax holidays.


For more information

For related advice, see the BBB Tip: Get ready to go back to school and BBB tax tips and resources. Read our tips for smart online shopping

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Information courtesy of the Better Business Bureau