Celebrate Savings with Florida Tax-free Holiday Week Aug. 7-16
With school just weeks away, it makes sense to save all the money you can. Florida’s wildly popular tax-free holiday has been extended from a weekend to ten days. Here’s your guide to savings and strategies to make the most of the holiday.
Clothing, shoes and accessories – $100 or less per item
Just about anything a child would wear back to school are tax-exempt during the consumer holiday. This includes school uniforms, shoes and sneakers, outerwear and undergarments.
Sewing patterns, fabric, clothing repair items are still taxable. If you sew to save money, scope out sales at Joann Fabric. Sports uniforms and martial arts outfits are non-taxable; but pads, shin guards, athletic gloves and other body protection items are still taxed. If you’re buying for your young athlete, think of it as getting a partial discount on a uniform.
School supplies selling – $15 per item or less
This is perfect for most of the supplies your kid needs: pens and pencils, notebook paper, calculators and jump drives. One exception: computer printer paper is taxable. If your child needs one of those ginormous binders, you’d be hard-pressed to find a good one for under $15. Stack coupons to reduce the price, or take advantage of clearance sales and coupon codes before or after the holiday.
Personal computers and accessories – first $750 of the sales price
This includes desk tops and all accessories, laptops, e-readers and tablets – anything used to process data. Non-exempt are games, smartphones and video game consoles. Computer rentals are also not covered, and while this primarily affects businesses, it might make it tougher for those who can’t afford to buy one. Still taxable are printers, ink and toner, and computer paper. Watch the sales at Target, Walmart, Office Depot, Staples and other big box stores.
The tax holiday is geared toward back-to-school savings, but there are plenty of savings for parents and workers. Apparel is tax-free in adult sizes, too. That means you’ll save on outfits whether you’re a stay at home parent or work in an office. Uniforms are covered, too. The exceptions: briefcases and computer cases, non-prescription safety glasses, paint or dust masks, hard hats and checkbook covers.
Good news for new parents
No worries if you don’t have school-age children. Diapers, diaper bags, baby clothes and bibs are not taxed. Stock up! And use manufacturer coupon codes and store rewards to get a better deal. As usual, there are a few split hairs: receiving blankets are non-taxable but crib blankets are.
Money-saving tips for Florida sales tax holiday
Couponing: Florida’s sales tax is 6 percent; your local options tax varies. The discounts add up, but you can really save if you stack manufacturer coupons, rebates and other allowable discounts. For example, if you buy a suit costing $105, but you have coupons that make the suit, say, $95, the item falls under the tax-free threshold, saving you an additional 6 percent.
Use caution and comparison shop
Don’t fall into the trap of buying just because there is no sales tax. A big sale at Gap or Kohl’s will give you a better discount than merely eliminating sales tax. Use the holiday for items that rarely go on sale, like Apple computers.
Shop online: It’s much easier to compare prices online, plus you skip the long lines. Tax-exempt items bought online enjoy the same discount purchased in-store. Use a coupon website portal for instant savings, or comparison shop using an online tool like PriceJump.
Layaway: Put items you want on layaway now and avoid sales tax if you pay in full during the holiday. You can also put eligible merchandise on layaway or rain check it during the holiday, and you’ll avoid states sales tax even if you collect the item after the holiday. Good strategy for Christmas shopping!
The sales tax week begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 7 and ends at 11:59p.m. on Sunday, August 16. For a full list of items that are and are not exempt, take a look at the official Florida Department of Revenue TIP list.
Marie Hickman is a former Bay area journalist turned writer and blogger. She is a featured contributor to the valpak.com savings and business blogs, Midlife Boulevard, Divorced Moms and SheKnows. Her work also appears in Blunt Moms, The Penny Hoarder, Money Saving Mom and other websites. Marie and her son live in Palm Harbor. Follow her on Twitter at @MrsHickman777.