This weekend, from Friday through Sunday, Virginia will be holding its sixth annual back-to-school sales tax holiday.
Throughout the weekend, customers will be able to buy select items, such as school supplies and clothing, tax free.
Joel Davison, public relations manager at the Virginia Department of Taxation, said it’s estimated that residents could save approximately $4.3 million over the weekend.
How it works
A school supply, according to the Virginia Department of Taxation, “means an item that is commonly used by a student in a course of study.” In order to be exempt, the supplies must all have a sales price of $20 or less.
Some eligible products include lunch boxes , dictionaries, book bags, art and music supplies (including instruments), legal pads and more.
Clothing and shoes with a sales price of $100 or less per item are also exempt from tax. However, sporting equipment and footwear “designed primarily for athletic activity” does not qualify for exemption.
Baby bibs and receiving blankets, bathing suits, belts, coats, costumes, diapers, golf clothing, hats, shoe inserts, ties, underwear and wedding apparel all qualify to be purchased tax exempt.
Computers and computer supplies, such as printers and compact disks, are not eligible for tax exemption.
Clothing accessory items, such as handbags, watches, sunglasses, protective equipment and recreational equipment do not qualify for tax exemption.
Rental items, custom orders and items that do not fall under the price threshold until a rebate is issued do not qualify for a tax exempt sale.
However, items purchased online, by mail order or by telephone are exempt from tax if the item is both delivered and paid for by the customer during the exemption period, or if the customer places and pays for an order and the seller accepts the order for immediate shipment during the exemption period. In the latter case, the delivery can be made after the exemption period.
Coupons may be used to reduce the price of an item to fit below the price threshold. As long as the sales price for clothes ends up below $100 and supplies below $20, the items will be tax exempt.
An item purchased during the exemption period and then exchanged for another qualifying item after the exemption period ends does not owe any additional tax.
For 60 days immediately after the tax holiday, no credit or refund of sales tax will be given for returned items unless a receipt shows tax was paid. This 60-day period is set for the purpose of designating a time period during which customers must provide proof that sales tax was paid on returned merchandise. A retailer’s return policy will not be altered by the holiday in any other way.
Other tax holidays
Virginia holds sales tax holidays at various times of the year. The next sales tax holiday will occur Oct. 7-11. During that period, Energy Star and WaterSense Qualified products will be exempt from sales tax. Eligible products must be priced at $2,500 or less, and be purchased for non commercial use.
Unlike the other sales tax holidays (one for hurricane and emergency preparedness and one for Energy Star and WaterSense qualified products) that are due to expire in 2012 if they’re not renewed by the General Assembly, the back-to-school sales tax holiday has no expiration date.
“This holiday proved to be especially good timing with the recession, it would be hard to stop,” Davison said. “When you add up the savings for one child or five children, it can add up for a family and mean something. It was approved unanimously by the Assembly. It’s good for consumers and retailers, this one really is a win-win situation.”
Exceptions to the rule
For this weekend only, retailers will also have the option to absorb the sales tax for shoppers on any items in the store. However, retailers are not required to do this. Usually retailers, with the exception of those in car sales, would be charged a misdemeanor for exempting shoppers of sales tax.
If any retailers are not honoring the tax exemption for qualifying products, Davison suggests going back to the point of sale and discussing it with the retailer. If the money is not refunded or there is another issue, report the problem to the Department of Taxation.
“Retailers don’t benefit from charging the tax on this weekend, so there aren’t usually many problems,” said Davison. “It’s usually some confusion about the rules or a problem with the register.”
For more information about the sales tax holiday, visit www.tax.virginia.gov/.
For the complete list of exempt items, click here.