WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Reminder: Tax-free holiday is this weekend, 8/2 - 8/4

Posted August 1, 2013



Here's one last reminder that the annual tax-free holiday for school supplies is this weekend, August 2 - August 4. Here are some tips to getting the best deals and a list of the specific qualifying items. 

Will you be shopping for tax-free deals this weekend?


Tips for shopping during the tax-free weekend:

* When considering a qualifying purchase during the tax-free weekend, be sure to do your homework. Comparison shop to make sure you are getting a good deal.  Use online sites to compare costs and remember that stores including Best Buy and Walmart will price match. 

* Although buying items tax-free may sound like a great savings, keep in mind that many school supplies will be much less expensive on other weeks so don't wait to buy everything on the tax-free weekend when you can get some of those same items for much less with back-to-school sales in the coming weeks.  I post a list on the blog every Sunday of the best back-to-school deals.  Hopefully you have been stocking up on the 1 cent to $1 deals every week!

* If you decide to shop for tax-free items this weekend, be prepared for long lines and crowded stores. Traditionally, this is a very busy weekend for shopping.  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.

* 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.  Be sure to check online for any discount codes at sites like

* Make sure that you verify on the receipt that tax was not paid for qualifying items. If you are charged the tax on an item that should have been tax-free, you will need to address it with the retailer. The Dept. of Revenue will not be able to refund the money to you.

* Surprisingly, diapers are included in the long list of qualifying clothing items below. Even if your little one is not in school yet, you can still score a tax-free deal on some necessary items!

With the new tax deal this year, the annual tax-free holidays for school supplies and Energy Star appliances will not continue as of 2014. This will be the last year that this event is held.

Here are the specific items included in the tax-free holiday from the DOR website

1. Clothing with a sales price of $100 or less per item including:

Aprons, household and shop
Athletic supporters
Baby receiving blankets
Bathing suits and caps; beach capes and coats
Belts and suspenders
Boots; overshoes
Coats, jackets, capes, and wraps
Costumes (does not include costume masks sold separately)
Diapers (children and adults, including disposables)
Earmuffs; gloves and mittens for general use; hats and caps; hosiery; scarve
Formalwear (does not include rentals)
Garters and garter belts; girdles; leotards and tights; panty hose; socks; stockings and footlets; underwear
Insoles for shoes
Jogging suits
Lab coats
Rubber pants
Sandals; shoes and shoelaces; slippers;sneakers; steel-toed shoes
Uniforms (athletic and nonathletic uniforms when purchased for nonbusiness use)
Wedding apparel (does not include rental

2. Sport or recreational equipment with a sales price of $50 or less per item including:

Ballet and tap shoes
Cleated or spiked athletic shoes
Hand and elbow guards
Helmets (bicycle, skating, baseball, and other sports)
Life preservers and vests
Mouth guards
Gloves (baseball, bowling, boxing, hockey, golf, and other sports)
Roller and ice skates
Shin guards
Shoulder pads
Ski boots
Waders, wetsuits, and fins

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

According to the DOR website, "the separate sale of a monitor, keyboard, mouse, or speakers is subject to the applicable tax when the item is not sold in conjunction with a central processing unit. Peripherals are not considered part of a computer and are subject to the applicable tax notwithstanding that they may be sold with the computer as a package. Peripherals must be separately stated on the invoice and the appropriate tax charged on those items."

4. Computer supplies with a sales price of $250 or less per item including:

Computer storage media, including diskettes and compact disks
Handheld electronic schedulers, except devices that are cellular phones
Personal digital assistants, except devices that are cellular phones
Computer printers
Printer supplies for computers, including printer paper and printer ink

5. School supplies with a sales price of $100 or less per item including:

Blackboard chalk
Book bags
Cellophane tape
Clay and glazes
Composition books
Folders (expandable, pocket, plastic, and manila)
Glue, paste, and paste sticks
Index card boxes
Index cards
Legal pads
Lunch boxes
Paintbrushes for artwork
Paints (acrylic, tempora, and oil)
Paper (loose leaf ruled notebook paper, copy paper, graph paper, tracing paper, manila paper, colored paper, poster board, and construction paper)
Pencil boxes and other school supply boxes
Pencil sharpeners
Pencils (includes pencil leads)
Pens (includes pen refills)
Sketch and drawing pads
Writing tablet

6. School instructional materials with a sales price of $300 or less per item including:

Reference books
Reference maps and globes

Items that DO NOT qualify for the tax-free status include:

Sales of clothing accessories or equipment
Sales of protective equipment
Sales of furniture
Sales of an item for use in a trade or business

When it comes to coupons and rebates, here is the official word on how these are handled from the DOR:

Coupons: "Discounts from retailers' coupons are deducted from the price of an item before determining if the item is eligible for the sales tax exemption. Example: a customer buys a dress priced at $105 and uses a retailer's coupon for a 10 percent discount. The discounted sales price of the dress is $94.50 ($105.00 - $10.50 = $94.50) and the dress is exempt from sales tax if purchased during the holiday. Manufacturers' coupons are treated just the opposite way and are not deducted from the sales price before determining an item's eligibility for the sales tax exemption.

Rebates: Rebates do not affect the sales price of an item for the sales tax holiday. Example: a computer priced at $4,000 with a $600 rebate is not exempt from sales taxes. The amount of the rebate is not deducted from the sales price of the computer before determining if the computer is eligible for the sales tax exemption."

For even more detail on what is included in the tax-free holiday, visit the  Department of Revenue website.


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  • theCouponDiva Aug 3, 2013

    DSW is honoring tax free on on-line orders as well. If you're shipping to an address in a state during its tax free weekend you wont be charged any sales tax. Thats pretty awesome!

  • Not Now Aug 2, 2013

    Are voice recorders eligible for the tax break? My spouse is going back to school and needs a voice recorder to help with the lectures.

  • OnDaRoof Aug 2, 2013

    Anyone know of any deals (gift card offerings) on Ipads this weekend? Or maybe coming up on Sunday?

  • BaseBallMommy Aug 1, 2013

    I don't see it specifically but I may be over looking the list. IF I need to get glasses, is that tax free?

  • busyb97 Aug 1, 2013

    Many local stores DO offer the tax-free discount online as well...including APPLE. A few years ago, we went to the Apple store in Raleigh (early in the day), and the line was HUGE- wrapped around the 2nd floor. The customer service guy at the door (the bouncer really), told us we could order online and get the same discount, so we did! had the computer in just a few days.

    I know Staples sent me an email that they are offering the same thing online. So if you have a large purchase or can shop online, it's worth a shot! your time is valuable too.

    But I can get better deals later probably (except those big-ticket, rarely on sale items) - because it's only 7% people! Do you get excited by a 7% sale in a store? Nope..we wait for 50% or better to get excited. ;)

    Have fun/be safe.

  • heremeaj Aug 1, 2013

    Remember that there will be needs for kids who have parents not able to provide the school supplies so pick up some extras to donate while you are hitting those deals. The teachers really appreciate the extra supplies as well since they already spend so much of their own money when they see a student in need.

  • ilovelucy31 Jul 30, 2013

    I bet because this is the last one some stores are going to have some good deals to go with the tax free weekend! I will definitley be checking my email to see what stores are doing what promotions at the least! Might get a few good deals!

  • maina2000maina2000 Jul 30, 2013

    ddkelly, this is the last tax free weekend thanks to the government!!!

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Jul 30, 2013

    Juanita - I bet they love their care packages from you!

  • raesmom1612 Jul 29, 2013

    Yea we try to help out where we can since we live so far away, my sister is easy she is going on her senior year in high school and only has like 2 or 3 classes but the boys (two in 6th grade one in 8th) love getting their packages from the auntie and uncle n NC :)