Are printers, computers tax-free? 10 states hold sales tax holidays this weekend and some offer a tax break on tech

Christel Deskins

Shoppers in 10 states should file this away: This weekend, you can pick up clothes and school supplies tax-free.

Sales tax holidays kick off Friday in nine states – Florida, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia – and Maryland’s tax holiday begins Sunday.

Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee already held their tax holidays. Maryland and Connecticut will offer tax breaks later in August. 

The back-to-school shopping season, the second-biggest period for retailers, behind the holidays, usually kicks off in mid-July and peaks in mid-August. This year, it’s off to a slow start amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts predict the shopping season will peak in late August and spill into most of September.

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The purchases parents are making are different than in previous years. Clothing is less of a priority, replaced by electronics, face masks and other protective equipment.

Printers, computers tax-free for some

Computers are tax-free this weekend in four states: Florida, Missouri, New Mexico and South Carolina under different thresholds. Technology supplies including software and printers also count in most cases. 

According to the National Retail Federation, parents with children in elementary school through high school plan to spend an average of $789.49 per family, up from $696.70 last year. That spending is expected to total $33.9 billion, up from $26.2 billion last year, breaking the record of $30.3 billion set in 2012.

The trade group predicts that college students and their families will spend a total of $67.7 billion, up from $54.5 billion last year.

“By any measure, this is an unprecedented year with great uncertainty, including how students will get their education this fall whether they are in kindergarten or college,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Most parents don’t know whether their children will be sitting in a classroom or in front of a computer in the dining room, or a combination of the two.”

In five states, tax breaks are year-round. Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon don’t have a sales tax, according to the Tax Foundation. Most clothing also is tax-free year-round in some states, including Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

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Tax-free shopping 2020

Not every town and county will participate in the sales tax holidays, nor will every item be tax-free. Online shopping also is exempt from tax during the days. For some states, local taxes still apply.

Florida sales tax holiday 

Dates: Aug. 7-9

What’s tax free:

  • Clothing, footwear and accessories, including face masks: $60 or less
  • School supplies: $15 or less
  • Computers and accessories: $1,000 or less per item

Full list:

Sign of the times: Face masks make the list this year for Florida back-to-school sales tax holiday

Iowa sales tax holiday

Dates: Aug. 7-8

What’s tax-free: Clothing and footwear, less than $100

Full list:

Iowa tax holiday: How to save on back-to-school shopping; plus, what is tax-free?

Maryland tax-free week

Dates: Aug. 9-15

What’s tax-free:

  • Clothing and footwear: $100 or less
  • Backpacks: The first $40 is tax-exempt

Full list:

Missouri sales tax holiday

Dates: Aug. 7-9

What’s tax-free:

  • Clothing: Up to $100
  • School supplies: Not to exceed $50 per purchase
  • Personal computers: Up to $1,500
  • Computer software: Up to $350
  • Graphing calculators: Up to $150

Full list:

New Mexico tax holiday

Dates: Aug. 7-9

What’s tax-free:

  • Clothing and footwear: Less than $100
  • Computers: $1,000 or less
  • Computer-related items: Up to $500
  • School supplies: Less than $30

Full list:

Ohio sales tax holiday

Dates: Aug. 7-9

What’s tax-free:

  • Clothing: $75 or less
  • School supplies and instructional materials: $20 or less

Full list:

Tax-free shopping in Ohio: Will sales tax holiday draw out Ohio shoppers amid pandemic?

Oklahoma sales tax holiday

Dates: Aug. 7-9

What’s tax-free: Clothing and footwear, less than $100

Full list:

South Carolina sales tax holiday 

Dates: Aug. 7-9

What’s tax-free: 

  • Clothing: No limit
  • School supplies: No limit
  • Computers, computer parts and accessories, printers, ink: No limit
  • Books and musical instruments: Tax-free if “used for school assignments.”
  • Bed and bath: No limit, includes blankets, bed spreads, bed linens, towels, etc.

Full list:

Tax exempt or not?: Here’s a list of tax-free items for South Carolina’s ‘Tax Free Weekend’

Texas sales tax holiday

Dates: Aug. 7-9

What’s tax-free: 

  • Clothing and footwear: Less than $100
  • School supplies and backpacks: Less than $100

Full list:

Texas sales tax holiday 2020: Retailers are just as excited as shoppers amid COVID-19 slowdown

Virginia sales tax holiday

Dates: Aug. 7-9

What’s tax-free: 

  • Clothing and footwear: $100 or less
  • School supplies: $20 or less
  • Hurricane and emergency preparedness products: Portable generators up to $1,000; gas-powered chainsaws $350 or less; other specified hurricane preparedness items, $60 or less per item. 
  • Energy Star and WaterSense products: $2,500 or less per item

Full list:

Coming tax holidays

Two more states have tax holidays, later in August.

Connecticut tax-free week

Dates: Aug. 16-22

What’s tax-free: Clothing and footwear, less than $100

Full list:

Massachusetts sales tax holiday

Dates: Aug. 29-30

What’s tax-free: Almost everything that costs up to $2,500. In Massachusetts, there is no sales tax on clothes less than $175, year round.

More information:

Contributing: Associated Press

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Back to school shopping: Florida, Texas, Virginia have tax holidays

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