Where You Can Shop Tax-Free for Back-To-School in 2017

If you’re lucky enough to live in a state that offers tax holidays for back-to-school shopping, this is your heads up — the first of those wonderful tax-free weekends begins this Friday, July 21, and your favorite retailers are likely to be wooing you with some of the best back-to-school sales of the season.

We found 16 states that have confirmed their back-to-school tax holidays for 2017. Most tax holiday states are in the south, though there are a couple oddballs in the Midwest.

Tax-free weekends everywhere tend to have a few interesting common features. Most will let you put items on layaway tax-free. Or if you make a final payment on a layaway item during the tax holiday, you’ll get out of state sales tax that way, too. And online purchases are subject to the exemption, too, if you live in a tax holiday state.

There are a few nuanced points to be aware of while looking through this list, however.

Most states will enforce a dollar limit on purchases in certain categories. For example, a common limit we see is for clothing up to $100. What that actually means can vary from one state to the next, however, and sometimes even from one product category to another. For a dress that costs $110, one state may exempt the sales tax on the first $100 of the sale, meaning you’d only pay taxes on the $10 left over. Another state may simply exclude that same dress from being eligible for the exemption since it’s priced over the $100 threshold.

Another difference lies in whether “priced under $100” includes or excludes a price tag of exactly $100. Speaking literally, “under $100” would mean that $99.99 is eligible, but $100.00 is not. Remember that sales tax holidays are written and voted upon by state governments, and the law can be very literal.

Finally, remember that it’s only state sales tax that is on holiday. If you pay city, county or other local taxes, you’ll still see those on your receipt.

In short, you should always, always read the fine print so you aren’t surprised at the cash register.

One more thing before we jump into the list: If you’re looking to buy a wedding dress or stock up on disposable diapers, inexplicably, Oklahoma will be the place to go. Seriously.

States with Tax-Free Back-to-School Shopping in 2017:


When: July 21-23
What: Certain school supplies, computers, and clothing
Notes: Not all counties will participate, so check this list of participating counties before you shop.
More Info


When: August 5-6
What: Certain clothing and footwear, clothing accessories, school supplies, art supplies and instructional materials.
Note: Various spending limits apply on all eligible items.
More Info


When: August 20-26
What: Clothing and Footwear costing less than $300 per item
Note: Does not include accessories or athletic clothing.
More Info



When: August 4-6
What: Clothing, footwear, certain accessories, school supplies, personal computers and computer-related accessories
Note: Various spending limits apply on all eligible items.
More Info


When: August 4-5
What: Select clothing and footwear
Note: Various spending limits apply on all eligible items.
More Info


When: August 4-5
What: Just about any physical object you can buy, up to $2,500.
Note: Exceptions include cars, restaurant-prepared meals, and most service-oriented purchases like hotel rooms, dry cleaning or event tickets. Additionally, since the exemption only applies to state sales tax, shoppers can still expect to pay local taxes on their purchases.
More Info


When: August 13-19
What: Qualifying clothing and footwear up to $100
Note: School supplies are still taxable.
More Info


When: July 28-29
What: Clothing and footwear priced under $100.
Note: The city of Heidelberg is not participating.
More Info


When: August 4-6
What: Clothing, school supplies, computers
Note: Several cities, counties and districts will not be participating. The Missouri Department of Revenue has complete lists you can check.
More Info

New Mexico

When: August 4-6
What: Qualifying tangible personal property
Note: Various spending limits apply on all eligible items, and every category includes items that are excluded by state law.
More Info


When: August 4-6
What: Clothing, school supplies and instructional materials
Note: Various spending limits apply on all eligible items.
More Info


When: August 4-6
What: Select clothing and footwear up to $100
Note: It’s a great weekend to stock up on tax-free diapers in Oklahoma. And if you’re looking to buy a wedding dress, wedding apparel will be tax-free this weekend as well. However, clothing meant for athletic use is not. See the Oklahoma Tax Commission’s website for a complete list of tax-exempt items.
More Info

South Carolina

When: August 4-6
What: Clothing, accessories, footwear, school supplies, computers, computer peripherals, software, and bed and bath textiles
Note: Accessories includes hats, scarves, hosiery and handbags, but does not include jewelry, wallets or eyeglasses.
More Info


When: July 28-30
What: Clothing, school supplies and computers
Note: Various spending limits apply on all eligible items.
More Info


When: August 11-13
What: Most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced under $100
Note: Texas excludes clothing and footwear designed primarily for athletic use, but makes a nice distinction between athletic apparel and stuff that’s more equipment than apparel. For example, a football jersey would be tax-free, but football pads and pants are not. Running shoes are tax-free, but track shoes and cleats are not.
More Info


When: August 4-6
What: School supplies, clothing, footwear, hurricane and emergency preparedness items, Energy Star and WaterSense Items
Note: Virginia previously had three separate tax holidays for back-to-school, hurricane preparedness and energy efficiency initiatives, but for 2015 they decided to roll it all up into a single weekend.
More Info

If you don’t see your state on this list, there are a few other options to consider. Five states – Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire and Delaware – have no state sales tax at all, ever. And for back-to-school wardrobes, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New York and Vermont all exempt certain clothing, footwear and accessories from state sales tax year round. Not a bad deal at all! And of course, don’t forget to put it all on a cash-back credit card to save even more.

If you shop tax-free weekends for back-to-school, we’d love to hear how much you saved! Leave us a comment below.

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