Texas’ back-to-school inspired weekend of tax-free shopping is not just for parents of school-age children, but rules do apply.
And don’t worry about inviting your friends and family from Oklahoma and Louisiana to come shop. Those neighboring states already had their sales tax holidays last weekend.
The break is only on items priced $100 or less. But in this era of apparel deflation, it’s not hard to find clothing under that price point. And most items on school supply lists are well under that threshold. Computers and electronics are not tax-free.
The weekend of tax-free shopping in Texas starts Friday at 12:01 a.m. and ends at midnight Sunday. It’s a 19-year tradition in Texas and a break from the 8.25 percent sales tax people pay every day on school supplies, shoes and clothing. The sales tax may sound like a trivial amount, but if you’re spending $500 to get two or three kids back in school, that’s $40 for lunch at the mall.
Critics say it’s not worth the effort and of course they can stay home. The Texas Comptroller’s office has forecast shoppers will save $87 million in state and local taxes this weekend. That forecasts spending of more than $1 billion on pencils, paper, sneakers, jeans, backpacks and school uniforms. More than 5.2 million students will return to the state’s public schools this month in kindergarten through 12th grade. Stores are competing for that business and will be offering discounts.
If you swore off this event years ago, you may want to reconsider. It’s still a huge weekend for shopping, but not as crazy as it was before Louisiana and Oklahoma copied Texas. “We still get a nice 10-percent bump up in sales, but it’s not like when we had more of the out-of-towners from neighboring states,” said Angie Freed, general manager at Galleria Dallas. “We still get crowded, but it’s not the 20 percent sales increase it once was.”