How to Plan Your Tax-Free Shopping Road Trip

Commentary about business and finance.
July 26 2013 12:19 PM

Bring on the Tax-Free Weekends!

A state-by-state guide to evading the sales tax this summer.


It’s tax-free holiday time again—those special few days each year when what you see on the price tag is what you actually pay at the register. So if you’re planning on doing any back-to-school shopping, you may want to sit tight until August. In North Carolina, you can score computers of $3,500 or less per item with no taxes. Zero. That’s a savings of $262.50 in Chapel Hill. Per computer. Connecticut offers the best deals on clothing, allowing you to spend up to $300 tax-free per item. And many, many states are offering school supplies of $100 or less per item. That is a lot of pencils.

Alas, not everything is tax-free. Here’s a state-by-date guide Slate has put together for you to help make the most sense of your tax-free dollars. Before you hop in the car, be sure to click on the states below to see all the fine print, including definitions of things like “clothing”—for example, garden gloves count as clothing in Florida, but baseball gloves do not.

AUG. 2–4

1. Florida: school supplies (no single item more than $15), clothing ($75), computers ($750)
South Carolina: clothing, school supplies, computers (no limit provided)
North Carolina: clothing ($100), school supplies ($100), instructional material ($300), computers ($3,500), other computers ($250), sports equipment ($50)
Virginia: clothing, backpacks and school supplies ($100)
Iowa: clothing ($100)
New Mexico: clothing ($100), computers ($1,000), computer equipment ($500), school supplies ($30)
Louisiana: all tangible personal property ($2,500)
Alabama: clothing ($100), computers ($750), school supplies ($50), books ($30)
Tennessee: clothing ($100), school supplies ($100), computers ($1,500)
Missouri: clothing ($100), computers ($3,500), school supplies ($50)
Oklahoma: clothing ($100)

AUG. 3–4

12. Arkansas:  clothing ($100), school supplies (no limit provided)

AUG. 9–10

13. Texas: clothing, backpacks and school supplies ($100)
Georgia: school supplies ($20), clothing ($100), computer ($1,000)

AUG. 11–17

15. Maryland: clothing and footwear ($100)

AUG. 18–24

16. Connecticut: clothing and footwear ($300)

Holly Allen is a Slate Web designer.



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