|Tax-free weekend: 10 things you might not know are
knoxnews.com-Tennessee's annual sales tax holiday weekend is coming up the last weekend in July instead of the first weekend of August in past years so we need to get ready to do some super shopping!
The short version of Tennessee sales tax holiday rules is that three categories of merchandise will be tax exempt that weekend: computers under $1,500, school supplies and clothing priced under $100.
But there is a lot more to it, and I say it is worth taking a minute to learn a little more about what is and what is not exempt, because your weekend of sales tax savings amounts to between 8.5 and 9.75 percent, depending on the Tennessee town you shop in.
Here are 10 things you might not realize are eligible for the three-day sales tax break:
1. Laptops and tablets
It is common knowledge that computers with a purchase price of $1,500 or less are exempt, but laptops and tablets also are tax exempt. Be careful, though, because computer parts such as keyboards and monitors are not included unless they are bundled with the computer. Also excluded are flash drives, CDs, printers, Kindles and smartphones.
There are some gray areas, like Kindles and Nooks. Tennessee Department of Revenue officials say that if they are tablet computer equivalents, they are exempt, but if they are simply readers, they are not.
The law says, "No items used in trade or business are exempt under these provisions."
So while you could buy yourself a tax-free iPad on tax-free weekend, you could not use the weekend to buy 50 of them for your office.
2. Halloween costumes
Think ahead to Halloween because all costumes, including novelty kids costumes that are priced less than $100, are exempt.
3. Backpacks, etc.
It is not just pens, pencils and protractors that are exempt, but also backpacks, lunchboxes, pencil boxes, poster board, markers, pencil sharpeners, notebook paper, scissors and more. The exempt list is large and very specific.
4. All kinds of clothing
Most people think of exempt clothing to mean children's school clothes, but the tax-free deal is broader than you might think, including any clothing under $100. That includes underwear and socks, bathing suits, mittens, jogging bras, tennis outfits, graduation gowns, lingerie, tuxedos, neckties, galoshes and even prom and wedding dresses, if you can find them at the right price.
The rule is that as long as the price is $100 or less, you are good to go tax-free.
Yep, chef uniforms, Scout uniforms, lab coats and scrubs (purchased individually) are exempt from sales tax.
6. Shoes and boots
The exemption applies to hiking boots, formal shoes, running shoes and just about any kind of footwear from cowboy boots to rubber flip-flops as long as they are priced under $100. But it does not apply to shoes with cleats or spikes. And the Department of Revenue notes that "items that are normally sold together such as shoes cannot be split up to stay beneath the $100 threshold." Haha. I guess some savvy shoppers have tried that.
7. Baby stuff
If you or someone you know is expecting a baby, this is a great time to buy diapers, baby clothes, receiving blankets, pajamas and bibs all tax-free.
And the diaper exemption applies to adult diapers like Depends too, so this could be a good weekend for young and old to stock up.
8. Office supplies
You don't have to have school-age kiddos to enjoy the tax relief weekend, because many of the exempt items are not just for school use but are things you regularly use in your office or home, like index cards, copy paper, folders, notebooks, legal pads, pens, scissors, etc.
9. Art supplies
Artists of all ages can rack up savings on supplies during the tax-free weekend, with sketch pads, all kinds of paper, including poster board and construction paper, clay, watercolors, acrylic, tempera and oil paints and paintbrushes all exempt.
10. Shoe inserts and other random stuff
There are definitely some random items on the exempt list, like shoe inserts, corsets and girdles, ski masks, ponchos, shawls, "veils for general use," long johns, leg warmers, belts (but not belt buckles), suspenders, clerical vestments, altar clothing and vests, "except hunting and water."
For a full list of what is exempt and what is not exempt, see tntaxholiday.com.
Biggest bang for your tax-free buck
Computers are the biggest ticket items that get the break on tax-free weekend, giving you the largest possible savings. The exemption is on computers that cost $1,500 or less, so you could get a savings of almost $150. Plus, there are sure to be some great computer deals offered by retailers, giving you the double savings of a sale, plus no tax.
Ms. Cheap's tax-free tips
Do your computer buying homework before the big busy sales tax holiday weekend, so you know exactly what you want ahead of time. Then on the tax-free weekend, you can simply go to the store and get it. The computer sales people are undoubtedly going to be swamped over the weekend and not able to give you their undivided attention as you make your buying decisions.
Make a list of things you are looking for at the tax-free level, along with sizes.
Check ads of your favorite stores to see what deals they are offering during tax-free weekend. Some have nice bonuses that let you save twice.
Look for coupons at the stores you plan to shop. Think Macy's coupons or Kohl's Cash that you can piggyback on the sales tax exemption.
Know that you can shop online or by phone and still enjoy the savings. The Department of Revenue says: "Qualified items qualify if the customer orders and pays for the item and the retailer accepts the order during the holiday period, even if delivery is made after the exemption period."
Don't forget consignment stores and outlet stores because they will be offering the exemption, too.
Forget thrift stores for this one weekend, since the nonprofit ones are tax-free on clothing all the time.
Take a few minutes at the register to be sure that no tax is charged on your items that are supposed to be exempt. The retailers have to change their registers to comply with the holiday and there are bound to be a few glitches with such a big changeout.
Don't buy something just because there is no tax. Nothing is a bargain unless you need it.
Enjoy the savings!
When is tax-free weekend?
Tax-free weekend is July 28-30. It begins the last Friday in July each year at 12:01 a.m. and ends at 11:59 p.m. the following Sunday. Details: tntaxholiday.com.