Florida’s back-to-school sales tax holiday begins this Saturday: Find out how you can save

Little Girl Choosing School Supplies – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by New Africa

The 2020-2021 school year was strange enough as is, but as officials juggle what to do about the new COVID-19 surges, parents are preparing themselves for back-to-school shopping.

Florida parents shopping for back-to-school supplies can save big when the state’s 10-day tax holiday begins on Saturday, July 31. The event runs through August 9.

To help with expenses, a sales-tax holiday on specific school supplies was approved by the Legislature earlier this year. Shoppers are expected to save a whopping total of $69.4 million both in state and local taxes during the 10-day event. 

There are certain restrictions and limitations that shoppers need to know in order to avoid confusion at the stores.

Here’s a breakdown.

Things that are tax-free include:

  • Most school supplies selling for $15 or less per item.
  • Clothing, footwear and certain accessories selling for $60 or less per item.
  • The first $1,000 of the sales prices of computers and accessories (when purchased for personal, noncommercial use). Cellphones don’t qualify as computer electronics.

Eligible items sold as layaway sales qualify for the exemption if you:

  • Accept delivery of the merchandise during the sales tax holiday period
  • Put an eligible item on layaway, even if final payment is made after the sales tax holiday period.

Athletic gear, luggage, duffel bags, sunglasses, jewelry, watches, handkerchiefs, and umbrellas will be taxed. Purchases at an entertainment complex, theme park, airport, or public lodging establishment are also not included. 

There is no limit to the number of items bought, as the exemption is based on the sales price of each item. 

According to Dana Ottomeyer, the general manager at a Staples store located in Orange Park, some of the items in extremely high demand are primary composition notebooks for children in kindergarten and first grade, typical notebooks (both wide and college ruled), and pep rally binders. 

“A lot of post-it notes [topped my list],” said music teacher Melanie Card. “[I also had to] replenish markers and erasers. Some of the regulars.”

“[My list had] mainly just binders and folders. that’s it basically it,” said rising sixth-grader Jazmin Columbus. “[I also had to get] pens, post-it notes and expo markers.

Parents can find their child’s school supply list online. 

Card and Ottomeywer said that a newer trend has arisen, and that is that more and more people are opting to shop online for school supplies and needs. 

“I didn’t necessarily need to do a whole lot of restocking this year,” Card said. “A lot of our supply we actually did at the end of last school year before we were into this rush time that we’re in right now.”

The music teacher stated that she still has some more shopping to do for her classroom and can save money when she checks off her lists throughout the tax-free holiday. 

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