During Tax-Free Weekend each August, Texas shoppers can skip paying sales tax on most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced under $100. This equals a little over $8 in savings for every $100 you spend. That makes it a good time to start back-to-school shopping, if you haven’t already.
To help retailers and shoppers, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts has issued the following guidelines regarding which items will be eligible for the tax exemption:
- Most clothing and footwear under $100
- School supplies
- Costumes (Halloween is just around the corner)
- Uniforms (school, work, nurse, military)
Whether you’re shopping for your toddler, child in elementary school, those teenagers in middle and high school, or buying yourself some office supplies and clothing, use these 5 tips to ensure a successful tax-free shopping weekend.
1) Set a Budget. It’s easy to get caught up in the back-to-school rush and end up spending more than you intended. To prevent impulse buying or rationalizing a purchases because it’s on sale AND tax-free, set a hard spending cap before you hit the stores.
2) Shop at Home. Take some time and assess each child’s needs by going through drawers, cabinets and closets to make sure you’re not buying any duplicates. You will likely find several items on hand that you’ve already purchased but never used or are in good shape and can be used again.
3) Prepare a Shopping List. After taking inventory, prepare a shopping list and stick to it. Check your child’s school website for a shopping list of required school supplies. You will also want to make sure you are familiar with your child’s school dress code to avoid buying items that they won’t be able to wear.
4) Download Mobile Price Comparison Apps. Install a price comparison app on your phone so you can check the products you’re shopping for in the store to see if you’re getting the best there, or if you should head to another store or online. Some examples of commonly used apps which can be used on both iOS and Android, are: Amazon Price Check, Price Grabber, and Google Shopper.
5) Beat the Crowds. The earlier you get to the stores, the earlier you will get out and get to the next one. Another perk of getting there early is fewer people and a wider selection. And the sooner you finish shopping, the sooner you can get back home!
The tax free weekend is one way to soften the blow of back to school shopping. In addition to giving you the chance to buy all the usual back-to-school items, this weekend can be a great time to stock up on items you normally buy at full price without having to shell out the 8.25% sales tax. And don’t fret if you’re not able to make it shopping this weekend, as there will probably be more sales after Labor Day that could offer bigger savings.