Shoppers get a sales tax break on August 7-9

18 states offer tax-free holidays

Beginning at one minute past midnight Thursday, Oklahoma shoppers will get a rare chance to save money on sales tax.

The annual sales tax holiday is August 7-9 (it ends at midnight Sunday). Certain clothing and shoes that cost less than $100 are exempt from state, city and county sales taxes during the weekend.

In 2013, Oklahomans saved more that $7,000,000.00, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission. The Legislature created the annual weekend in 2007 after shoppers in southern Oklahoma flocked to North Texas during the tax-free weekend in that state.

While clothing is exempt, accessories, clothing designed primarily for sports or protection and rental clothing is generally not exempt. Accessories include jewelry, handbags, luggage, umbrellas, wallets and watches.

All retailers are required to forego the sales tax that weekend. In the case of a “buy one, get one free sale,” the total price cannot be averaged to get under the $100 ceiling. If a coupon brings the price of an item under $100, it qualifies for the exemption. Layaways also qualify.

Internet sales and sales made by e-mail, telephone or regular mail qualify if the sale is made during the weekend, regardless of delivery date.

The Texas Sales Tax Weekend, which partially inspired action in Oklahoma, will be August 7-9 and is similar to Oklahoma’s. Texas has had this annually since 1999.

Most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced under $100 will be exempt from sales and use taxes. That will save shoppers about $8 for every $100 spent.

This includes online sales and sales by telephone or mail plus layaway plans.

Many malls and retails plan extended hours in Texas that weekend. Estimates are that Texas shoppers will save as much as $87,000,000.00 this weekend.

The tax holidays have been successful and popular around the country. Many retailers, including those in Oklahoma, offer special sales to accompany the tax break.

The University of Cinncinati estimated that the Ohio tax holiday would save state households $78,000,000.00.

Last year in Massachusetts, retail traffic jumped 24 percent compared to the weekend before and sales were 60 percent higher.

Eighteen states have similar sales tax holidays, mostly over one weekend before school starts. Some states like Mississippi also include hurricane preparedness supplies while others toss in products that help the environment. In Florida, consumers don’t have to pay the first $1,500 of energy efficient appliances during its annual tax holiday. Toilets, faucets and other water saving devices are also exempt then.

Virginia added tissues and hand sanitizer to its list of school supplies this year. North Carolina ended its tax holiday and chose instead to cut its income tax rate.

Critics say it costs states revenue but proponents point out that sales tax from non-exempt items that weekend tend to make up for any state sales tax revenue loss.

Not Tax-exempt List

  • Aprons, household and shop
  • Athletic supporters
  • Baby receiving blankets
  • Bathing suits and caps
  • Beach capes and coats
  • Belts and suspenders
  • Boots
  • Coats and jackets
  • Costumes
  • Diapers, children and adult, including disposable diapers
  • Ear muffs
  • Footlets
  • Formal wear
  • Garters and garter belts
  • Girdles
  • Gloves and mittens for general use
  • Hats and caps
  • Hosiery
  • Insoles for shoes
  • Lab coats
  • Neckties
  • Overshoes
  • Pantyhose
  • Rainwear
  • Rubber pants
  • Sandals
  • Scarves
  • Shoes and shoe laces
  • Slippers
  • Sneakers
  • Socks and stockings
  • Steel-toed shoes
  • Underwear
  • Uniforms, athletic and non-athletic
  • Wedding apparel