WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Reminder: Sales tax holiday starts today (8/3)!

Posted 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. The 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.

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:

Shop at home first - take an inventory of what you already have so you don't over-buy.

Make a list and stick to your budget. It's easy to get carried away when shopping for supplies.

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 6.75% 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!


Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • DianeNC Aug 4, 2012

    (Sorry if these have been posted already...)

    These are back-to-school specials at Target, but they don't start until 8/5:

    Scotch Magic Tape will be on sale for $0.49. Target currently has a $0.50/1 Scotch Magic tape on their website. With that coupon, the tape is free.

    Papermate pens 10 pack is selling for $1.00. Target has a $1/1 Papermates coupon on their site to get them for free.

  • splucker Aug 4, 2012

    Baby diapers are also tax free =)

  • ummyeah Aug 3, 2012

    the organic bedroom is offering discounts for beds purchased for students plus giving a gift card equivalent to taxes this weekend. Good opportunity to get quality mattress for kids at a good price and pick up soome sheets... for free with gift certificate

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Aug 3, 2012

    Great job, Erika! Thanks for sharing the 15% off code!

  • erika483 Aug 3, 2012

    The Kid to Kid in Apex is offering 15% off your entire purchase all weekend when you mention the coupon code "School Days" to the cashier. Between already low consignment prices, no tax, and 15% off I was able to get a whole fall wardrobe for my son for cheap.

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Aug 3, 2012

    Thanks jdouglas. :-)

    The Don't Miss It Section is on the home page of about halfway down the page. It's a horizontal group of videos under the main stories.

    Is anyone out shopping today??

  • jdouglas13 Aug 3, 2012

    Great job Faye! Where is the "Don't Miss It" section on WRAL's site that the announcer mentioned?