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Back to School: Shopping tips for tax free weekend

Georgia’s fall tax-free holiday coincides with back-to-school shopping season to help you save even more on school related items for the upcoming year.

This year, the Sales Tax Holiday takes place Friday, July 31 and Saturday, August 1. As always, there are a few steps you can take before you shop to make sure you get the most out of the weekend.

In general, clothing and footwear priced $100 or less per item; computers, computer components, and prewritten computer software purchased for noncommercial home or personal use priced at $1,000 or less per item; and school supplies purchased for noncommercial use which cost $20 or less per item, are all exempt from sales tax.

These exemptions apply to purchases made in-store and online, as long as the purchases are made during the tax-free weekend time-frame.

Sales tax in the state of Georgia ranges from 4 – 8 percent. So on a $100 purchase you save $4 – $8. This helps, but naturally, you will want to take advantage of other sales and discounts to help you save more money. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Know what is exempt and what is taxable. Clothing is exempt, jewelry and handbags will be taxed. Skates and athletic shoes are tax-free, but sports equipment such as goggles and personal flotation devices are not. Computer batteries are tax-free, regular batteries are not. Blank CDs or DVDs are exempt, pre-recorded CDs or DVDS will be taxed. School supplies, including book bags and lunch boxes are exempt, but briefcases are not. Scan the full list of items before shopping so you won’t be surprised at the register. For the full list, visit www.dor.georgia.gov.

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Comparison shop. Many stores offer tax-free weekend promotions. It’s easy to get confused. Take the time to pre-shop. Use your favorite apps or websites to find the best prices.  Many retailers are advertising dollar deals or percent discounts. Scan the store circulars to see who is offering the best specials on the specific items you need. Some stores may have quantity limits on items that carry super low prices. In-store shoppers who plan to shop multiple stores, should find an area with most of the retailers you plan to visit so you can go from store to store and save on sales tax, without burning up your savings in gas.

Stay within the limits: If you purchases are over the taxfree limit, you will pay full tax on the item. For example, a computer that costs $1,200 will carry the full tax. There is no cap on the total amount you can spend on clothing, shoes or supplies, as long as each item falls below the individual item cap.

Pay attention to promotions. Retailers will offer a range of promotion to entice you to shop during tax-free weekend. For example, Best Buy is offering an HP ENVY Wireless e-All-In-One Printer for $19.99 with a purchase of any HP PC. Office Depot has HP ink buy one, get one for 50% off and $80 off a Lenovo laptop (sale price $149.99).  Target has promotions offering BOGO 50 percent off certain character items. Note which ones promotions may help you save on items you already plan to buy.

Take your time. Tax-free weekend is only two days long, but some stores will offer extended hours to give you more time to shop. For example, Calhoun Premium Outlets and North Georgia Premium Outlets will have extended hours from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., while Mall of Georgia and Town Center at Cobb will open from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. There will also be kid-focused special events and retailer discounts taking place throughout the day.

 


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