WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Thursday thoughts: Tax-free weekend starts Friday!

Posted August 5, 2010 11:57 a.m. EDT

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 7.75% when you combine the 5.75% 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.

Tax-free weekend dates: Friday, August 6 at 12:01 AM to Sunday, August 8 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 more information on exactly what is covered see the NC Department of Revenue website at the link in the box above.

Extended Hours:

The following stores and malls have extended hours during the tax-free weekend so you have plenty of time to shop.If your favorite store isn't list below, give them a call to see if they are offering extended sale hours as well.

Friday, August 6: 8:00 AM – Midnight
Saturday, August 7: 7:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Sunday: August 8: 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM

Plus, get $10 Kohl’s Cash for every $50 you spend from Friday, August 6 through Tuesday August 10. Kohl’s Cash Coupon is redeemable in store August 11 – August 18.

Best Buy
Friday, August 6: 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Saturday, August 7: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Sunday: August 8: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
FYI – Best Buy price matches!

Crabtree Valley Mall
Friday, August 6: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Saturday, August 7: 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Sunday: August 8: 12 Noon to 7:00 PM

Carolina Premium Outlets in Smithfield
Friday, August 6: 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Saturday, August 7: 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Sunday: August 8: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM

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.

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.  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 discount retailers like Goodwill. Brian Shrader did a piece on those deals earlier this week. The link to the story is in the box above.

Good luck and please post your great finds!