Have a merry ‘Sales Tax Holiday’

This year’s sales tax holiday is Aug. 17-19.

It’s not Black Friday, but the Texas sales tax holiday has retailers and shoppers alike gearing up for a weekend purchasing extravaganza. This year’s holiday is Aug. 17-19, and Texas Comptroller for Public Accounts Susan Combs estimates shoppers across the state will drop $810 million tax-free on goods gearing up for back-to-school. The three-day weekend exempting taxes on allowable back-to-school purchases is forecasted to save Texans roughly $64.8 million on items such as backpacks, socks, uniforms and pens.

Tax holiday exempts, according to the comptroller, “most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced under $100 from sales and use taxes, which could save shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend.”

The exemption does not apply to special clothing or footwear used only for athletic activity or protective use such as golf cleats and football pads; clothing rental or alteration; or accessories such as watches and similar items.

Internet, television and mail-order purchases are also tax-free, as are qualifying items sold under “layaway” plans. For qualifying layaway purchases, the exemption applies two ways — if the customer places the qualifying merchandise on layaway during the holiday or if the final payment is made during the holiday, even if it had been placed on layaway at a prior date.

Make a list and check it

Whether you plan to shop at your favorite retail store or in the drawers and closets of your home, the Better Business Bureau of Southeast Texas recommends sticking to a budget to avoid overspending on school supplies.

Other tips the BBB recommends following while back-to-school shopping:

• Take inventory – use what you have before buying new materials.

• Look for the deals – tax-free weekend being the exception to the rule, according to information compiled by the BBB, “Shop sooner rather than later and save more.”

• Set a budget - decide how much you are willing to spend per child, create a shopping list and stick to it.

• Shop during tax-free holidays.

• Know what your child’s school allows - many schools have specific dress codes, so keep those restrictions in mind before spending money on clothes the school may not allow.

For more consumer tips, visit www.bbb.org. In Southeast Texas, call (409) 835-5348 or (855) BBB-SETX (222-7389).