Big Ways to Save on Back-to-School Buys

chalk board that says 'back to school' on it

What Is Back-to-School Time All About?

As the days start getting shorter, you know it is time to begin the prep work for the new school year. Back-to-School sale events offer you unique opportunities to stock up on new clothes, necessary school supplies and more to get your kiddos perfectly outfitted and ready for the year ahead. During these special days before school starts again, you will find a number of retailers eager to help you save on the items your children need for the classroom.

Skip the Sales Tax for Back-to-School Purchases

The good news is that many states throughout the country now offer special weekends where back-to-school purchases of certain items and dollar amounts are not charged any sales tax. Examples in your state may include clothing costing $100 or less per item or computers priced at $750 or less. Inspired by ideas presented by the Passion for Savings blog, here are a few important things to know regarding sales tax when you get ready for your back-to-school shopping adventures.

When Is Tax-Free Weekend?

Since school starts on different dates in different areas of the country, tax-free dates will vary from state to state as well. Typically, these special savings times take place sometime in the month leading up to the first day of school.

Which States Offer Tax-Free Days for Back-to-School?

Although not all states participate in this yearly tax break, the trend is growing across the country. Here are the states where you can skip the sales tax, along with the dates for this year's savings events:

Alabama:

Alabama has scheduled its tax-free weekend for July 15-17.

Arkansas:

Arkansas' tax-free weekend is scheduled for August 6-7.

Connecticut:

You can skip the sales tax on school related items in Connecticut during the week of August 14-20.

Florida:

This year, Florida is extending its tax-free days to run July 1-7..

Iowa:

Iowa offers a sales tax break on school items over the weekend of August 6-7.

Maryland:

You can avoid sales tax in Maryland by shopping for back-to-school items during the week of August 14-20.

Massachusetts:

Massachusetts is set to allow for tax-free back-to-school shopping from August 13-14.

Mississippi:

Mississippi’s tax-free weekend will take place a little earlier, falling on July 29-30.

Missouri:

Missouri offers three days of sales-tax-free school shopping on August 5-7.

New Mexico:

Shop for school supplies tax-free in New Mexico on the weekend of August 5-7.

Ohio:

Ohio’s tax-free dates for school supplies and clothing are August 5-7.

Oklahoma:

Oklahoma offers a break on sales tax for school clothing items purchased during the weekend of August 5-7.

South Carolina:

In South Carolina, mark your calendars to save the sales tax on August 5-7.

Tennessee:

Shop the tax-free weekend in Tennessee on July 29-31.

Texas:

Texas will give you a break on the sales tax for school-related items during the weekend of August 5-7.

Virginia:

August 5-7 will be this year’s tax-free weekend in Virginia.

West Virginia:

West Virginia offers shoppers an extra day of tax-free shopping, extending their dates to August 5-8.

What Items are Considered Tax-Free During These Dates?

Much like the dates for each state’s tax-free days, the qualifying items may vary. It will be important to check with your local retailers or state organizations to find out specifically which items do or do not qualify for this sales tax break.

Typically, clothing is included in the tax breaks for the states listed above. In most areas, school supplies, such as backpacks, pens, pencils, paper and crayons, will also be included in the tax-free category. A few of these states will allow you to purchase computers and computer equipment while saving the sales tax during these special periods. West Virginia has gone as far as giving the tax-free status to sporting equipment that will be used for school sports activities and athletic classes.

Can You Shop Online and Still Get the Back-to-School Tax Break?

Good news! In most cases, items purchased online that would qualify as tax-free items in-store during these tax holidays will also qualify as tax-free when purchased online. Again, it is important to read the fine print to find out exactly which items your state is allowing to be free of sales tax for that period to make sure your purchase qualifies to skip the tax. Also, remember that within your online order, you will still be required to pay tax on any additional items that fall outside of those special tax-free categories.

Which States Do Not Participate in Back-to-School Tax-Free Days?

Although more states are jumping on the tax-free back-to-school bandwagon, there are still many that do not participate in this yearly tax break. Here is a list of the states that do not yet offer a back-to-school tax holiday:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

More Ways to Save for Back-to-School

Saving the sales tax is a great place to start when you need to shell out so much money for back-to-school shopping. But be sure to check individual stores for specials on new clothes, shoes, backpacks and other necessities. Many retailers take this time of the year to boost sales by offering parents buy-one-get-one offers, deep discounts on select products and free items with qualifying select purchases. Plus, you may find some of your favorite local restaurants offering special prices during your tax-free weekend, since they know so many people will be looking for a place to grab lunch or dinner during their school shopping trips.

Restaurant.com

Get a $25 dining certificate for just $3 for local eateries near you. Just use code SCHOOL between 8/5-8/19.

Vivid Seats

Not quite school-related, but Vivid Seats has an offer for $15 off when you spend $150 or more, so it’s a great time to see a concert or baseball game or take the kids to the theater. Use code FOLLOW15.

Walmart

Save up to 60% off with Walmart’s Summer Clearance deals, now through 8/31.

Wayfair

Save 10% off with email signup to the Wayfair newsletter, plus big savings for back to school throughout the site.

Redbubble

Get the cutest back to school supplies and save 15% off notebooks when you buy 2+, 15% off kids t-shirts when you buy 2+, and so much more.

TJ Maxx

You’ll already save up to 50% less than department stores, but also TJ Maxx has back to school essentials starting from just $12.99.

ShopDisney

Buy a backpack and get a lunch box for just $8! No code needed. Valid through 7/25 only. Use code SHIPMAGIC for free shipping after that.

Macy’s

Macy’s has a ton of back to school deals coming up. Start with up to 60% off clearance now and then up to 60% off their one day sale on 7/16-7/18, extra 20% off with code BTS from 7/22-7/25, or extra 20% off with code SHOP 7/28-8/1.

Target

Get pencils, backpacks, notebooks, apparel and more during Target's Back to School Sale.

Princess Polly

Shop all the latest fashions and trendy styles for back to school and save 10% off orders $99 or more during July and August with code COUPONFOLLOW10.

Instacart

Moving away from home can be overwhelming. Instacart can help you get your groceries delivered, so you can spend more time studying and less time stressing about how to eat healthy on campus. Get free delivery on your first order of $10 or more.

Discount School Supply

This amazing site has deals on back to school products under $10, and if you use code BTS21 you’ll get free shipping on orders $33+ too.

Trip.com

Looking for travel deals for back to school? Trip.com has 10% off now through 9/15 with code SUMMER10OFF.

Corkcicle

Save 10% off with code COOLSCHOOL for a limited time.

ZAGG

Take 25% off through 9/14 only with code BACKTOSCHOOL25.

TechSmith

Use code BTS20 for 20% off sitewide through 8/31.

Michael’s

Save 20% off all regular price purchases, 40% off craft storage, and get back to school deals like B1G1 50% off markers and Cricut accessories.

Wisp

Get intimate care and even COVID-19 tests from home with Wisp - use code B2SCHOOL for 1 free month with any subscription purchase, now through August 31 only.

mspy.com

Send your kids back to school with your worries at ease. Get 25% off your purchase at mSpy with code BTS25! Offer valid now through Oct 11th.

Dormify

Get your dorm room ready with Dormify! Save 15% on your purchase with code BACK2SCHOOL.

Lumin Skin

Glow back to school with Lumin Skincare. Save 18% site-wide with code COUPONFOLLOW18. Now through Aug 8th.

Frequently Asked Questions About Back-to-School Days

Is There a Back-to-School Season?

Yes! Back-to-School season is a time for getting students prepared to head back to the classroom. Purchasing school supplies, buying new clothes and signing up for various activities are all part of the back-to-school season.

Why Is Back-to-School Celebrated?

Marking the beginning of a new school year is a tradition most families celebrate as their students prepare for new adventures at the next level of their education. This period is meant to encourage and equip these students to succeed in the new school year.

On Which Day Is Back-to-School Celebrated?

The season for back-to-school sales, events and parties typically takes place near the end of summer. Because the first day of school varies from state to state, the specific back-to-school days for sales and events vary as well. They usually take place anywhere from the latter part of July to mid-August.

about the author

Tiara Rea-Palmer
Director of Partnerships
As an expert in online savings and an avid deal enthusiast, Tiara heads up retail relations at CouponFollow, where she stays up-to-date on all the best deals, discounts, and freebies, as well as negotiates exclusive coupons and offers for CouponFollow users. In her free time, you can find Tiara writing, DIY crafting on a budget, and traveling with free rewards card miles.