Tax-free shopping

Customers stocking up on school supplies, clothes and shoes can expect to save about $8 for every $100 they spend during this weekend’s tax-free holiday. CVS/Pharmacy in Gainesville had their school supply aisle well stocked Tuesday.

Photo by Lindsay Lorenz
Gainesville Daily Register

For those who haven’t gotten back-to-school shopping out of the way just yet, holding off one more day might not be a bad idea.

While area retailers are marking down merchandise as the school year looms closer, Texas shoppers will also catch a break on state and local sales tax as part of the state’s annual sales tax holiday.

From Friday to Sunday, those who buy qualifying school supplies, clothing and shoes will not have to pay the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax, or any local taxes, that may apply to purchased items. Under state law cities and counties are allowed to tax merchandise up to an additional 2 percent.

According to the Texas Comptroller’s office, shoppers can expect to save about $8 for every $100 they spend.

In Gainesville, Bealls Manager Joanie Raley said the store has adjusted its hours to accommodate shoppers, opening earlier and closing later.

“A lot of times they’ll shop us early and leave for out of town,” she said.

Raley, who’s worked at Bealls for the last 13 years said employees, many of whom are tax-free weekend veterans, are prepared for a rush.

“That’s a big savings,” she said about the holiday, “and a lot of people will wait for it.”

Although Raley noted that some shoppers have already started stocking up.

“Right now they’re definitely buying back-to-school,” she said.

Popular items include clothing, shoes, backpacks and lunchboxes.

But as for tomorrow, “We’ve got it stocked and staffed and we’re just waiting for (customers) to come,” she said.

Hannah Ritchey, an associate at Payless Shoe Source, said shoppers who venture into the store this weekend will probably take advantage of buy-one-get-one sales.

“I assume we’ll sell a lot of kids shoes,” she said.

As a bonus, shoppers who visit the Gainesville Outlet Shops will receive an apple with their purchases in light of the tax-free weekend.

But for those not willing to brave the crowds, the holiday also applies to online retailers engaged in business in the state. Those who use layaway plans can also count on savings, but shoppers should be careful to take note of which items qualify for tax exemption before hitting the shops.

Approved items include most school supplies, clothing and shoes that retail for less than $100. That means anything from binders and bookbags to raincoats and robes.

However, the holiday does not offer savings on luggage, briefcases, jewelry, purses or other accessories. Most sports and specialized safety equipment is also excluded.

Regarding backpacks, parents must make sure the item has straps and can be worn on the back, otherwise sales tax will apply.

Those purchasing more than 10 backpacks will need an exemption certificate. Supplies purchased under a business account must also be accompanied with an exemption certificate, proving that the items are for a student.

To make sure the discount benefits students, the Texas Legislature moved the holiday to the third weekend in August in 2007, closer to the start of the school year. In 2009, the list of eligible items was extended.

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