The Texas Legislature didn’t make any changes to tax-free weekend, but families are shopping differently this year.
Expectations are that they’ll be buying more clothes than usual during the sales tax holiday in Texas that starts Friday and ends Sunday at midnight.
While many households skipped the sales tax holiday last year because they were doing virtual schooling, K-12 students have had plenty of time to grow out of their circa 2019 back-to-school wardrobes and uniforms.
“We’ve already seen a spike. Apparel sales were way up in July from 2019,” said Angie Freed, Galleria Dallas general manager. In pre-pandemic years the mall, which has all of the big three fast-fashion stores — H&M, Forever 21 and Zara — and all three of the Gap concepts, would see a 15% to 20% increase in sales during the sales tax holiday weekend.
The Texas Comptroller estimated that shoppers will save $107.3 million in state and local taxes over the three days on purchases of about $1.3 billion worth of backpacks and shoes, tops and bottoms, and paper and pencils.
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To be tax exempt, items have to be priced under $100. The 8.25% savings in state and local taxes in most cities can add up as parents are spending hundreds of dollars to get children back into the classroom.
While they’re controversial for some and not yet mandated for the 2021-22 school year, cloth and disposable masks are exempt from sales tax this weekend. So are diapers, by the way, which were added several years ago but new parents may not realize it.
Nothing had to change for masks to be exempt, Texas Comptroller spokesman Kevin Lyons said. Cloth and disposable fabric masks meet the definition of an article of clothing and are exempt without any need for a change in the law, he said.
Tax-free shopping is a pretty straightforward concept. Here’s a link to the list with all its quirks. Cowboy boots are exempt, for example, but fishing boots are not.
You don’t have to be a parent to shop tax-free, and the deals aren’t just in stores.
Items purchased online also have to be less than $100 to qualify, but a shipping or delivery fee is included in the price. The comptroller’s office gives an example: A $95 pair of jeans with a $10 delivery charge would make the price $105, which is no longer tax-free.
School supplies are exempt, but not boxes of tissue, disinfectant wipes and sanitizer, which are on some school lists, including Dallas ISD’s.
Feeling philanthropic? There are several drives to collect backpacks this time of year, and shoppers can buy up to 10 at a time tax-free without proof that you’re a school or nonprofit.
Athletic duffel bags are not exempt, and neither are briefcases.
D-FW parents plan to be big spenders for back-to-school
By Maria Halkias
Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $848.90 on school items, $59 more than last year, according to a survey conducted in July by Proper Insights & Analytics for the National Retail Federation. That survey found the biggest planned increases in spending are in electronics and clothing.
While there’s a lot of talk of inflation, a spot check of typical back-to-school categories reveals prices are about the same as in prior years. Popular brands such as Nike, Adidas, FILA and Vans have big shoe selections priced under $100. Polo tops and khaki and navy bottoms — the uniforms at many public elementary schools, including Dallas — are priced similar to prior years. Some tops and bottoms are priced under $10 at Old Navy, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Target and Walmart.
This is the 22nd year of tax-free shopping on an August weekend in Texas and the highest estimate ever for tax savings. While there was a tax-free weekend last year, the Texas Comptroller’s office didn’t give an estimate since schools were mostly virtual.
With many students going back into the classroom for the first time since the pandemic started, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said, “these expenses can add up.”
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