It’s a tax-free weekend in Texas for school supplies, clothes, shoes, backpacks and, yes, masks


The Texas legislature made no changes to the tax-free weekend, but families are shopping differently this year.

They are expected to buy more clothes than usual during the Texas sales tax holiday which begins Friday and ends Sunday at midnight.

While many households skipped the sales tax exemption last year because they were getting virtual schooling, K-12 students had plenty of time to get out of their closets and back to school uniforms circa 2019.

“We have already seen a spike. Clothing sales were up in July compared to 2019,” said Angie Freed, general manager of Galleria Dallas. In pre-pandemic years, the mall, which has the three big fast fashion stores – H&M, Forever 21 and Zara – and the three Gap concepts, would see a 15% to 20% increase in sales during the sales tax. holiday weekend.

The Texas Comptroller estimated shoppers will save $107.3 million in state and local taxes over the three days on purchases of about $1.3 billion worth of backpacks and shoes, tops and stockings, paper and pencils.

To be tax exempt, items must be priced under $100. The 8.25% savings on state and local taxes in most cities can add up, as parents spend hundreds of dollars getting their kids back to class.

Although controversial to some and not yet mandatory for the 2021-22 school year, cloth and disposable masks are exempt from sales tax this weekend. The same goes for diapers, by the way, which were added years ago, but new parents might not realize that.

Nothing had to change for masks to be exempt, said Texas comptroller spokesman Kevin Lyons. Cloth and disposable cloth masks meet the definition of a garment and are exempt without the need to change the law, he said.

Tax-free shopping is a fairly simple concept. Here’s a link to the list with all its quirks. Cowboy boots are exempt, for example, but fishing boots are not.

A man walks with his children after shopping at Dillard's inside the NorthPark Center in Dallas.
A man walks with his children after shopping at Dillard’s inside the NorthPark Center in Dallas. (Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

You don’t have to be a parent to shop duty-free, and the deals aren’t limited to stores.

Items purchased online must also be under $100 to qualify, but shipping or delivery charges are included in the price. The Comptroller’s Office gives an example: a $95 pair of jeans with a $10 delivery charge would cost $105, which is no longer zero-rated.

School supplies are exempt, but not boxes of tissues, disinfectant wipes and sanitizer, which are on some school lists, including those from Dallas ISD.

Do you feel like a philanthropist? There are several backpack drives this time of year, and shoppers can buy up to 10 at a time tax-free without having to prove you’re a school or non-profit organization. non-profit.

Sports duffel bags are not exempt, nor are briefcases.

Left to right, 16-year-old Ethan Alcala, 17-year-old Claire Betts, 17-year-old Bailey Biggers, and 17-year-old Brooklynn Ferguson were reviewing the picks store at NorthPark Center in Dallas, doing their homework before they started spending for back to school.

According to a July survey by Proper Insights & Analytics for the National Retail Federation, families with children in elementary through high school expect to spend an average of $848.90 on school supplies, up $59 from last year. This survey found that the largest expected spending increases are in electronics and apparel.

Although there’s a lot of talk about inflation, a spot check of typical back-to-school categories reveals that prices are about the same as in previous years. Popular brands such as Nike, Adidas, FILA, and Vans offer great selections of shoes under $100. Khaki and navy polo tops and bottoms — the uniforms of many public elementary schools, including Dallas — are priced similarly to previous years. Select tops and bottoms are under $10 at Old Navy, JC Penney, Kohl’s, Target and Walmart.

This is the 22nd year of August weekend tax-free shopping in Texas and the highest tax savings estimate ever. Although there was a tax-free weekend last year, the Texas Comptroller’s Office did not give an estimate because schools were mostly virtual.

As many students return to class for the first time since the pandemic began, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said “those expenses can add up.”

Twitter: @MariaHalkias

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