Ready or not, it’s almost time to go back to school. Prepare to see kids everywhere rolling their eyes and bemoaning the task in the coming weeks, but the time has come to start shopping for school supplies and clothes.
To help you save a few bucks, keep in mind that Virginia’s tax holiday for school supplies and clothing is next weekend, Aug. 3-5. Throughout the weekend, qualifying school supplies of $20 or less and qualifying clothes and footwear of $100 or less will be exempt from sales tax.
Some clothing purchases that are excluded consist of sporting equipment and footwear used primarily for athletic activities, as well as clothing designed for protective use and not considered appropriate for everyday use. Accessories are also excluded from the sales tax holiday.
Some products you may consider school supplies do not qualify as tax-exempt products.
Computers and computer supplies, defined by the Virginia Department of Taxation as “items commonly used by a student in a course of study in which a computer is used,” and textbooks are not tax-exempt.
However, school art and music supplies are considered school supplies and won’t incur sales tax.
Rebates that lower the price of an item cannot be used to make a product tax-exempt. For example, if a pair of shoes is priced at $120 and the manufacturer is offering a $20 rebate (to be mailed after purchase), the shoes are still not tax-exempt despite their after-rebate price of $100.
There are also some special guidelines for exchanges, layaway, rain checks and returns.
If you need to exchange an item purchased over the sales tax holiday, you will not owe sales tax on the new item.
Qualifying purchases put on layaway over the holiday will be exempt from sales tax, and any future payments on the layaway order are also exempt.
Rain checks that are paid for after the tax holiday are not tax-exempt. However, if an item is paid for during the sales tax holiday but delivered at a later date, it is still exempt.
Make sure you hold on to your receipt after making any supply purchases past Aug. 4. For 60 days after the tax holiday, any returns on tax-exempt products without a receipt will not receive credit for sales tax.
The only way to receive a refund for the price of the item plus any sales tax paid is to present an invoice or receipt. This applies to purchases made before and after the sales tax holiday.
Phone, Internet and mail orders are also affected by the holiday.
Qualifying purchases made via phone, Internet or mail order can be considered tax-exempt if the customer pays for the order and the seller accepts it for immediate shipment during the tax holiday (which excludes custom orders).
During the sales tax holiday, retailers may also absorb the sales tax on other products, so keep any eye out for those deals as well.
For more information on the sales tax holiday, visit http://tax.virginia.gov or call the Virginia Department of Taxation at 804-367-8037.
To see a full list of tax-exempt items, click here.