What you need to know about Texas’ Sales Tax Holiday

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas’ 23rd annual Sales Tax Holiday starts today and means that some purchases under $100 (in particular back-to-school items) are exempt from sales tax.

While the sales tax rate has not changed since 1990, when it was raised to 6.25%, inflation certainly has — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, $100 now has the purchasing power of $56.09 in June 1999, when the holiday began.

Read the Texas legislative text governing the Sales Tax Holiday’s rules here.

Texas Comptroller Glen Hegar said in a recent press release about the holiday that as the father of three, he knows how costs can add up for families.

“Most Texans won’t hear the back-to-school bell for another month, but it’s never too early to take advantage of the opportunity to save money on everything from book bags to ballpoint pens,” said Hegar in the release. “With inflation driving prices higher on just about everything, this sales tax holiday provides Texas families some small relief managing the costs associated with kids heading back to the classroom.”

Hegar’s office estimates a state-wise total savings of $112 million during the holiday.

Some extra rules to keep in mind:

  • Online purchases also count for exemption, but they must be ordered during the holiday.
  • Shipping, handling, delivery and transportation fees are included in the $100 limit. When ordering multiple items in the same shipment, the fees can be attributed to a single item in the order.
  • If you do pay sales tax on an exempt item, you can ask for a refund on the tax or file a form with the Comptroller’s Office.

Back-to-school items

Most school supplies under $100 are exempt. A list of school supplies can be found here. If an item is not on that list, then expect to pay sales tax on it. Textbooks and software are still taxed during the holiday

Backpacks are exempt, but only ones for elementary and secondary school students, so college students are out of luck. It is unclear from the guidelines how the backpack’s use is determined. Up to 10 backpacks can be purchased at one time during the holiday.

This exemption covers wheeled backpacks and messenger bags, but not athletic/gym bags, computer bags or purses.

Parents with kids in athletics have tricky guidelines for what is and isn’t taxable. As a rough guideline, jerseys are exempt from sales tax this weekend. However, specialized gear for sports, such as pants and shoes are not exempt. Safety equipment is also still taxed.

More than school supplies

Due to the holiday’s proximity to the end of students’ summer break, the holiday has gained a reputation as a back-to-school sale. However, some work-related items such as medical scrubs and other uniforms are also exempt this weekend.

Religious clothing, scout uniforms, fishing and hunting vests, painter pants and robes are all exempt this weekend. Costume masks and veils are also exempt, as are cowboy boots. Parents with infants get some savings too — baby bibs, clothes and diapers are all exempt.

It seems hard to imagine an escape from Texas’ triple-digit days, but Winter is only a few more months away. This weekend is a great opportunity to get cold-weather staples.

A full list of clothing exemptions can be found here. Here are some things that are still taxed this weekend:

  • Clothing rentals, cleaning or alterations
  • Tools and materials to repair clothing
  • Accessories, such as wallets, jewelry and watches
  • Protective gear, from bike helmets to bulletproof vests

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