WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Sales tax holiday starts Friday, 8/3

Posted July 27, 2012
Updated August 3, 2012

It’s time for the annual tax-free weekend here in North Carolina and that means back-to-school shopping is in high gear! From Friday, 8/3 through Sunday, 8/5, you will be able to purchase qualifying items and pay no tax on those products. he combined state and local sales tax rate across North Carolina is 6.75 percent. It’s 7 percent in Durham, Orange, Cumberland, Lee and Sampson counties. Here are some details about the weekend as well as some tips to saving the most while shopping tax-free. For all the specifics, see the Department of Revenue website HERE.

File: Tax-free weekend Smart Shopper Faye Prosser shares strategies for tax-free weekend

Tax-free weekend dates: Friday, August 3 at 12:01 AM to Sunday, August 5 at 11:59 PM

Items included in the tax-free weekend:

* School supplies with a sales price of $100.00 or less per item.

* Clothing with a sales price of $100.00 or less per item

* Sport or recreational equipment with a sales price of $50.00 or less per item

* Computers, including tablet computers and netbooks, with a sales price of $3,500 or less per item

* Computer supplies with a sales price of $250.00 or less per item

* School instructional materials with a sales price of $300.00 or less per item

For a list of exactly what is covered see the NC Department of Revenue website  HERE.

Items that DO NOT qualify for the tax exemption:

* Sales of clothing accessories or equipment

* Sales of protective equipment

* Sales of furniture

* Sales of an item for use in a trade or business

* Rentals

Extended Hours:

Some stores and malls will be extending their hours during the tax-free weekend so you have plenty of time to shop. Call ahead to see if your favorite stores are offering extended hours.

Tips to save the most:

Make sure the deals are really deals – don’t just buy because it’s tax-free weekend. You may save more money on another day when the item is on sale 25-30% off versus only saving 7.75% if the item is not on sale. For big ticket items like computers and printers, do your homework and price compare different sites to make sure you are getting a good buy.  Ideally you can find a great sale AND pay no tax!

Look for BOGO deals (buy one get one free deals), low cost school supply deals at office supply stores and Walmart and free after rebate deals.

Check out the school supplies sale list I will post on Sunday to find the best deals. Couple those sales with the tax-free weekend discount to save the most.

Be prepared for busy stores with an average of 20% more traffic during tax-free weekend. Be patient and don’t get stressed out. If you get anxious about the crowds, you are more likely to make a rash purchase just to be done with the shopping.

You can order items online to avoid the crowds and you will still get the tax-free discount. The tax may be charged initially, but the retailer should deduct it when processing the order.

Don't forget about retailers like Goodwill and consignment shops. You don't have to hit all the high dollar name brand stores for your back to school shopping.

Good luck and please post your great finds!  If you have any other advice for shoppers looking for the best deals during the tax-free holiday, please share your thoughts here!


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  • chesirekat1964 Aug 4, 2012

    Thanks atp0513 for the heads up on the energy star tax holiday. We are in the market for a stove, freezer and fridge. I have some gift cards from switchng our cable/internet/phone/cell phones to ATT, one from and another from our bank for using their online banking service for 3 months. I will hold on to them until November. Our nephew is coming to live with us and a freezer is going to come in handy, especially with HT sales.


  • Con Amor brings luv and laughter Aug 3, 2012

    I have to wait another week until payday, but I would LOVE to get in on some deals.. Does ANYONE know if I can layaway & the items be or remain tax free until I can get them out in a week??? Ive searched online but cant find an answer to this in NC.

  • mrschizzy Aug 2, 2012

    Sorry I meant to say I HAVE a Target red card.... :)

  • mrschizzy Aug 2, 2012

    I hate a Target red card that comes out of my checking account and I save 5% for every purchase, so it's almost like getting it virtually tax free - I only pay 1.75% tax after my 5% discount!

  • appgrad88 Aug 1, 2012

    Our school was smart enough to mail out the school supply lists on Monday, so we could utilize the tax free weekend if we chose to do so. My youngest is starting kindergarten and she has a very long list!I plan to hit the dollar store on friday for most of it.

  • atp0513 Aug 1, 2012

    North Carolina's Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday: In North Carolina, the Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday is scheduled for November 2-4, 2012 and applies to the following Energy Star purchases:

    Clothes washers
    Central air conditioners
    Room air conditioners
    Air-source heat pumps
    Geothermal heat pumps Ceiling fans Dehumidifiers, and Programmable thermostats

  • busyb97 Aug 1, 2012

    I thought the tax rate was only 6.75% also. I know some cities may be varied with their own rates, but I'm looking at recent receipts from Raleigh stores, and it is only 6.75%.

    Either way, except when we've wanted to get a new computer from the Mac store (which we bought ONLINE and saved the time, hassle, and still saved the money), we avoid the tax-free shopping if possible. The sales can be better later, versus the small ~7% rate you save. It's mostly marketing, pure and simple.
    Yes- if you combine it with sales, it's a bonus 7% off I suppose....but my time and stress level is worth at least that much. ;)

  • dickle Jul 31, 2012

    isn't the tax rate 6.75%?

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Jul 28, 2012

    Better early than late, jdouglas! :-)

  • jdouglas13 Jul 28, 2012

    And finally, take a look at the calendar (which I obviously did not!) and realize that tax free weekend is not this weekend as in yesterday-today-tomorrow, but in fact next weekend!! It was not until just this morning when I was all set to go hunt down deals that I was running just a bit early! LOL :p