Florida's back-to-school sales tax holiday comes early this year

Samantha Hughes of St. Petersburg shops for jeans at the Tyrone Square Mall Sears location during Florida’s popular back to school holiday last year. This year, the tax-free holiday for clothes, shoes and accessories runs today to Sunday.

LARA CERRI | Times (2011)

Samantha Hughes of St. Petersburg shops for jeans at the Tyrone Square Mall Sears location during Florida’s popular back to school holiday last year. This year, the tax-free holiday for clothes, shoes and accessories runs today to Sunday.

Florida's back-to-school sales tax holiday starts today and runs through Sunday. It's more than a week earlier than usual to give shoppers more time to get ready for school, which starts Aug. 20 in Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties and Aug. 21 in Hillsborough County.

Shoppers save 6 to 7 percent in sales tax on clothing, shoes and accessories.

Here's what you need to know:

What's tax-free?

Clothing, shoes and certain accessories, including backpacks and purses, that cost $75 or less, and school supplies that cost $15 or less (so a $100 scientific calculator would not qualify).

What's not tax-free?

Some items worn on your body are not exempt, including skis, swim fins, roller blades, skates, watches, watchbands, jewelry, handkerchiefs and sporting equipment. Books are also taxed, except for the Bible.

What school supplies are tax-free?

Pens, pencils, erasers, crayons, notebooks, notebook filler paper, legal pads, binders, lunch boxes, construction paper, markers, folders, poster board, composition books, poster paper, scissors, cellophane tape, glue, paste, rulers, computer disks, protractors, compasses and calculators.

What supplies are still taxed?

Correction tape, flash drives, masking tape, printer paper, staplers, staples, toner and ink cartridges.

Basic rules

• The exemption is available to any shopper and not limited to back-to-school purchases.

• The tax exemption applies to the price of the item, not the value of the total sale, and there's no limit on the quantity purchased.

• A store coupon or discount can be used to reduce the price of an item in order to qualify for the tax exemption. A manufacturer's coupon can't be used.

• The total price of items advertised as "buy one, get one free," or "buy one, get one for a reduced price," can't be averaged in order for both items to qualify for the exemption. So a pair of pants advertised for "buy one for $80, get a second one free" would not qualify because it exceeds the $75 limit.

• Mail order and Internet purchases made during the holiday are tax-exempt, and the cost of shipping and handling counts toward an item's price.

For more information, go to myflorida.com/dor.

Florida's back-to-school sales tax holiday comes early this year 08/02/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 2, 2012 9:08pm]

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