WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Sales tax-free weekend starts Friday, 8/5!

Posted August 3, 2011
Updated August 5, 2011

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 through Sunday, you will be able to purchase qualifying items and pay no tax on those products. For the Triangle area, that’s an automatic savings of 6.75% when you combine the 4.75% state sales tax rate and the 2% county tax rate. 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 5 at 12:01 AM to Sunday, August 7 at 11:59 PM

Items included in the tax-free weekend:

School supplies that cost $100 or less per item (including calculators, binders, paper)

Clothing that is $100 or less per item (including shoes, diapers, uniforms, coats and more)

Sports and recreational equipment that cost $50 or less per item (including items like ballet and tap shoes, gloves, cleats, bike helmets, roller and ice skates and more)

Computers that cost $3500 or less per item (monitors and keyboards are not included in the tax-free exemption unless they are purchased in conjunction with the CPU)

Computer supplies with a sales price of $250 or less per item (includes items like computer disks, printer paper, printer ink, printers and PDAs)

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

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 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.

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 (including free paper at Staples after rebate through Saturday).

Check out the school supplies sale list I posted on Sunday (the link to the deals is in the box above).  Those deals are good through Saturday and I’ll have a new list for you on Sunday.

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. I bought my youngest a pair of brand name jeans and a cute shirt for school last week for $5.77 at Nicole's Closet in the 40/42 area. They were offering a GrouponNow deal for $5 for $10 worth of product. The jeans were priced at $6 and the shirt was $4 so after the Groupon was deducted, I paid .77 at the register. The Groupon cost $5 so the total for both clothing items was only $5.77 - for an outfit!

Good luck and please post your great finds!


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

Oldest First
View all
  • jollyrogered Aug 5, 2011

    If you want to buy cheap college textbooks I strongly suggest half.com .... In a single semester I saved myself 600 dollars by not buying the used & new books in the college bookstores. Its like ebay for college books.

  • crobrien Aug 5, 2011

    Payless has the Bogo sale going on. You can also text or print out an additional 20% off coupon.
    Just purchased 3 pairs of kid sneakers, socks and a pair of work boots for a little more than the price of just the work boots!! I saved close to 40.

  • shopestewart Aug 5, 2011

    I just spent two hours at two different stores to buy a tax-free calculator they had advertised. First store couldn't find any even though their computer said they had them. Drove to another store and finally someone decided to help me. I did get the one advertised, but had to go back inside the store when I realized taxes were charged. Waited in customer service line for refund. I have used up all my patience for the day!

  • Oxymoron02 Aug 4, 2011

    Avoid the college bookstore deals on computers, really. When I started at State in 2007, I checked out their "deals" on computers. I then went to the company's website and looked up the exact same product. Each and EVERY computer State was peddling to students was cheaper to buy without the student "discount" pricing.

    Second the suggestion to find out what is required for their coursework. While it wasn't required of me, I chose a chip with hyperthreading when I bought back in '07 because it sped up, by orders of magnitude, how long it took my math programming stuff to run. Minutes, as opposed to up to a day. Can you imagine being a fulltime student, and you're computer is tied up "thinking" about what you're running for a whole day? Yeah, no thank you.

  • pss3 Aug 4, 2011

    quemaster-if your son/daughter knows what major they going into, it would be wise to check with the school to see what requirements they have. When I was in college, all music program students had to have an apple computer. Business students had specific requirements as well. Also the college book stores have deals with the manufactures to give a lower price on computers that meet those specific requirements.

    If your student does not have any specific requirements, I would shop around for the best deal. $500 should get you a laptop that has decent hardware and last thru college. I would also advise looking into the accidental coverage warranties if living on campus. I dropped mine and had a roommate spill a drink on it so it can definitely save you the cost of repair!

  • quemaster Aug 4, 2011

    Need a laptop for a college student. If anyone knows of the best deal please share! Thanks.

  • I am Blessed_56 Aug 4, 2011

    If you have a student at Wake Tech, the college bookstore on the main campus will be open this Saturday from 8am-4pm so you can buy textbooks tax-free.

  • shantankenz Aug 3, 2011

    JJ20-Kmart has crayons this week for 24cents a box (for 24 crayola)

  • ssgspoon Aug 3, 2011

    Thank You cmuffinberry - 5 packs per coupon, one coupon per kid and we can walk out with 1500 pages. I LOVE THIS BLOG!

  • cmuffinberry Aug 3, 2011

    If you go to Officemax.com you can print out a coupon from the ad to get notebook paper for .20 per pack. The limit is 5 packs per coupon.