Back to School Sales Tax Holiday 2020: what you need to know

Back To School Sales Tax Holiday Graphic

Back to School shopping is here, and in some areas, that means State Sales Tax relief. You can keep more money in your pocket and help the local economy when you take advantage of the Back-To-School State Sales Tax Holiday.

In Missouri and Oklahoma, certain back-to-school purchases will be exempt from sales tax from Friday, August 7 through Sunday, August 9, 2020, in participating states and cities across the U.S. In Arkansas, the holiday is August 1 through August 2, 2020.

In Kansas, the state doesn’t take part, but if you do your research, you can find retailers paying the sales tax for you.

Missouri

The sales tax exemption is limited to:

— Clothing – any article having a taxable value of $100 or less
— School supplies – not to exceed $50 per purchase
— Computer software – taxable value of $350 or less
— Personal computers – not to exceed $1,500
— Computer peripheral devices – not to exceed $1,500
— Graphing Calculators – not to exceed $150

Click here for more consumer information.

Click here for a list of cities that have opted out.
Click here for a list of counties that have opted out.

In Missouri, even if a city or county opts out and requires their taxes, shoppers won’t have to pay state sales tax.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma participates in the sales tax holiday. It’s on most clothing or shoes, but stores also have the choice to offer other savings during this weekend.

What items are exempt from sales tax in Oklahoma?

“Sales of any article of clothing or footwear designed to be worn on or about the human body and the sales price of the article is less than one hundred dollars ($100) are exempt. This does not apply to the sale of any accessories, special clothing or footwear primarily designed for athletic activity or protective use that is not normally worn except when used for athletic activity or protective use, or to the rental of clothing or footwear.”

All qualified items are exempt from state, city, county and local municipality sales tax.

Click here for more information on the Oklahoma sales tax holiday.

Kansas

Although some state lawmakers are pushing for school tax-free holidays, Kansas does not yet participate. However, cities can still organize their own deals.

Businesses in Fort Scott are still signing up for the sales tax holiday. The Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce will release a list ahead of the weekend.

Arkansas

The Sales Tax Holiday in Arkansas will be Saturday, August 1 through Sunday August 2, 2020.

“All retailers are required to participate and may not charge tax on items that are legally tax-exempt during the Sales Tax Holiday,” according to the state’s website.

The State of Arkansas allows shoppers the opportunity to purchase certain School Supplies, School Art Supplies, School Instructional Materials, and clothing free of state and local sales or use tax.

Learn more here.

Better Business Bureau back to school tips

Better Business Bureau offers the following advice on how to shop smart for back-to-school or back-to-college purchases:

Before leaving the house      

Start your back-to-school shopping by creating a list. Jot down everything you need and stick to the list! Impulse buying can increase your overall total in a hurry. Then, shop your home before heading to the store. You may already have some of the items from last year. Why purchase the same thing twice?

Research big ticket items

Before purchasing that expensive laptop, tablet or dorm refrigerator, be sure to do your research. Research the brands, warranty, customer reviews and the prices at various stores to be sure you’re getting the best deal. Also, look up the retailer on BBB.org.

Shop smart with sales and tax-free weekends

Compare prices between different retail stores, save your coupons, sign up for email alerts and redeem any cash-back or rebate offers. This will help you get the best deals, saving you a nice chunk of dough. Also, your state may have a tax free weekend, enabling you to buy clothes, school supplies and other items without paying sales tax. To see what your state offers, check out this resource from the Federation of Tax Administrators.

Ask for student discounts

Many stores and software companies offer discounts to students that have either an .edu email address or a student ID. Even if you don’t see a discount advertised at the store, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Shop in bulk

Some teachers ask parents to buy bulk items for the entire classroom to use throughout the year. Talk with other parents about what they’re getting and see if you can all split the cost.

Know the return policies and save your receipts

Kids can be fickle. They can love a new shirt yesterday but hate it today. Ask about return policies before making your purchase. Be sure to save your receipts just in case you have to return the item later.

Shop safely online

  • When shopping from an online website the first step is to make sure the URL starts with “https” and includes a lock symbol. The “s” in “https” stands for secure, that way you know your information is being protected.
  • Look up the website’s privacy policy and contact information. If it is not clearly listed, or they only have an email as the point of contact, take that as a big red flag and shop elsewhere.
  • Do your research. An unknown website may offer a similar product at a lower price. The lowest price isn’t always the best route. Check for user reviews and badges for consumer protection agencies.
  • Be sure to use your credit card instead of your debit card, as credit cards not only provide additional protection, but it’s also easier to dispute a fraudulent charge.
  • Be extremely wary of any website or store that asks for your child’s personal information in order to access special deals.
  • If you’re buying supplies through a website like Craigslist, make sure you don’t wire money to someone you’ve not met. Use PayPal if possible, but if you are using cash, make sure you meet in a public place and bring a friend.
  • If you use Facebook you know banner ads are all over the place and many ads are even catered to what you like. Some of them, however, are just click bait ads to drive you to a different website where you could potentially be asked to input personal information. Take note of the ad and go to the store’s website directly.

Click here for more online shopping tips.

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