Stateline Story

Sales Tax Holidays Arrive, Despite Economists' Grumblings

  • August 05, 2011
  • By Mary Mahling

This weekend begins a summertime rite of passage for some states: the sales tax holiday. Some 17 states this year are temporarily waiving their sales taxes on clothing, backpacks and other items deemed essential for students headed back to school. Though sales tax holidays are popular with shoppers, economists have long complained that the events don't actually stimulate spending that wouldn't have happened anyway. And when it comes to the most expensive items up for tax breaks — computers — one could argue that the rules aren't exactly keeping up with the times. For example, Missouri and North Carolina will waive the sales tax on computers priced up to $3,500, even though the average price of a PC sold in the U.S. is around $600 and has been dropping for years . And in Tennessee, an iPad qualifies for the break but a Kindle does not.

Back to school tax holidays 2011
State Starts Ends School Supplies Clothing Computers Other
Alabama 8/5 8/7 $50 $100 $750 Books $30
Arkansas 8/6 8/7 n/a $100    
Connecticut 8/21 8/27   $300    
Florida 8/12 8/14 $15 $75   Books $75
Iowa 8/5 8/6   $100    
Louisiana 8/5 8/6       All tangible personal property $2,500
Massachusetts 8/13 8/14       All tangible personal property $2,500
Maryland 8/14 8/20   $100    
Mississippi 7/29 7/30   $100    
Missouri 8/5 8/7 $50 $100 $3,500  
New Mexico 8/5 8/7 $15 $100 $1,000  
North Carolina 8/5 8/7 $100 $100 $3,500 Other computer $250
Instructional material $300
Sports equip. $50
Oklahoma 8/5 8/7   $100    
South Carolina 8/5 8/7 n/a n/a n/a n/a
Tennessee 8/5 8/7 $100 $100 $1,500  
Texas 8/19 8/21 $100 $100   Backpacks $100
Virginia 8/5 8/7 $20 $100    
facts about sales tax holidays