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THE BLOG

This Week Only: NO TAXES!

You might be wondering how saving a tiny bit of sales tax on a box of crayons is really going to make a dent in your finances. As anyone who has been through back-to-school shopping before knows, these items can add up.
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Now, that I have your attention and in the interest of full disclosure, we are all still paying our income taxes. But, for many of us, we will receive a tax-free holiday on certain items to celebrate that bittersweet time known as back to school. Generally, if we're sending one of our kids off to college, we are a total wreck. If they're going back to K-12, we might be doing a private dance of glee in our living rooms as the school bus pulls away from the curb.

Before I get sidetracked, as I have my own child heading out to college this year, the cost of supplies for school can be incredibly pricey. So, 17 states choose to give taxpayers a break on the sales tax for certain items. While this sales tax break can be welcome relief for many families, it truly doesn't have anything to do with our income taxes, only our pocketbooks.

You might be wondering how saving a tiny bit of sales tax on a box of crayons is really going to make a dent in your finances. As anyone who has been through back-to-school shopping before knows, these items can add up. Many states/counties honor the tax-free holiday on items such as clothes, backpacks, and even electronics such as tablets and computers. Of course, there are limits to the amounts you can spend. You can't go out and buy the most expensive computer money can buy and demand your tax break.

Not all counties in a state that participates in the holiday have to participate, and some don't. Be sure to check with your state and/or local government to see if your area is participating, the participation dates, and what's honored before you pick out that laptop.

Do not despair if you miss your tax-free holiday or your area doesn't participate. Typically, many stores have sales on the back-to-school items this time of year. Let's say a store has notebooks on sale for 50 cents, and they were a dollar during the tax-free holiday with a sales tax of 7% not being included. If you missed the tax-free holiday and bought your notebook for 50 cents, plus the 7% tax, you still paid 46 cents less than you would have if you bought it during the tax-free holiday.

And, just so things are fair, everyone is eligible for tax free holiday if you are in a state and/or county that participates. So, even if you don't have kids or if your kids are grown but you have a love of No. 2 pencils, feel free to stock up.