Residents of this state may purchase duty-free school supplies


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It’s a small dose of relief.

Key points

  • School supplies can be a big expense for many families.
  • This summer, NJ residents will get tax relief on school supplies for a limited time.

Although the 2021-2022 school year is coming to an end in New Jersey, before we know it, it’ll be time to start budgeting for next year’s back-to-school supply list. Parents often spend a lot of money on back-to-school essentials, from notebooks and pencils to laptops for older students.

Last summer, parents may have had an easier time paying for school supplies thanks to the enhanced child tax credit. Eligible households received monthly installments for the credit between July and December 2021.

But this summer, those monthly payments won’t hit the bank accounts of New Jersey residents — or anyone’s bank accounts, for that matter. Although President Biden initially hoped to keep the enhanced child tax credit in place for 2022, the spending bill that allowed it stalled in the Senate earlier this year.

Meanwhile, families across the country are struggling with the lack of monthly child tax credit payments, now that inflation is soaring and gas prices are skyrocketing. And that extends to New Jersey, where the cost of living is particularly hefty and property taxes are the highest in the country.

But there is good news for New Jersey residents with children. Governor Phil Murphy recently announced sales tax relief on back-to-school supplies that will take effect later this summer. And while that may not have a huge impact on the finances of those who are struggling hard, every little bit counts.

Time-limited tax relief

New Jersey parents typically stock up on school supplies in late August and early September. At that time, classroom assignments are usually made available, which parents often have to wait to find out which specific items to buy.

This year, all back-to-school supplies will be available to New Jersey consumers tax-free from August 27 through September 5. These items run the gamut from pens and crayons to sports and recreational equipment.

The 6.625% sales tax exemption on these items will cost New Jersey about $75 million in revenue. But lawmakers say residents of the state need relief, and throwing them a bone in that regard could make back to school more financially manageable.

A little savings could help

It’s estimated that the average New Jersey family spends about $800 on back-to-school shopping. Based on that, the sales tax relief on the table could save the average family $50. And for families with multiple children, the savings could be even more substantial.

Of course, for families who are already heavily in debt due to inflation, $50 can only make a small dent. But for some, it could mean the difference between having to carry over a credit card balance or paying it off in full. And so this modest lifeline is something New Jersey residents should be happy about.

Moreover, this sales tax exemption is not the only relief measure introduced in New Jersey. The state also offers property tax rebates to eligible residents, and these, frankly, could do a lot more for residents’ finances than the sales tax exemption on school supplies.

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