• A total of 16 states are holding back-to-school tax holidays this year, during which shoppers are exempt from paying taxes on select items including supplies, clothing, shoes, and electronics like laptops.
  • The decision to move forward with the tax-free periods comes as school districts continue to puzzle over opening schools back to students in the fall.
  • The tax holidays help cut costs, especially for families experiencing economic hardship due to high unemployment rates as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
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As debate wages around whether or not children will return to physical schools in the fall, several states plan to move forward with traditional back-to-school “tax holidays” that help cut the cost of school supplies. 

A total of 16 states are still holding tax holiday periods, during which shoppers can eschew paying local and sometimes state taxes on items ranging from notebooks and clothing to laptop computers, according to The New York Times. The specifications on what products qualify vary by state, as does the duration of the tax holiday, which can last anywhere from two days to a full week. 

For most states, policies regarding allowing students to come back to schools and campuses remain fluid as the coronavirus outbreak continues. While some school districts are calling for a joint virtual and in-school model that would allow students to come in on designated days, others have already called for homeschooling to continue come September. 

Regardless, most kids will still need a school supply refresh, even if traditional items like lunch boxes may not apply in a home school setting. At the same time, high national unemployment rates and a turbulent economic climate have left many families with tight budgets that make back to school tax holidays especially beneficial. 

school supplies

Tim Boyle/Getty Images

As they have in past years, some states have also expanded tax-exempt effort to other product categories like emergency preparedness, selling items like generators at tax-free or reduced rates. Other states, like Tennessee, are tacking on an additional holiday weekend to the calendar in August centered on dining to help stimulate the ailing restaurant industry amid the pandemic, The New York Times reported. 

With the exception of Alabama, which held its sales tax break last weekend, the following states have tax-exempt days for back to school shopping throughout the rest of July and August: Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Information on tax holiday dates and details regarding which products are included can be found on the individual websites for each state. 

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