Holidays

Back-to-school tax holiday runs Friday through Sunday – News – The Ledger

Families will be able to do some last-minute shopping without having to pay the 7 percent sales tax on certain items from 12:01 a.m. Friday to 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Students return to school Aug. 10.

Florida’s sales tax holiday comes just in time for the start of the school year in Polk County.

Families will be able to do some last-minute shopping without having to pay the 7 percent sales tax on certain items from 12:01 a.m. Friday to 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Students return to school Aug. 10.

The tax-exempt items will be:

• Clothing, footwear and certain accessories, including backpacks, wallets and handbags, that cost $60 or less per item.

• Certain school supplies that cost $15 or less per item.

• Personal computers and certain computer-related accessories that cost $750 or less per item when purchased for noncommercial home or personal use.

Tax will not be exempt from these items:

• Books that are not otherwise exempt.

• Rental or leases of any eligible items.

• Repairs or alterations of any eligible items.

• Sales of any eligible items in theme parks, entertainment complexes, public lodging establishments or airports.

Families with children in elementary through high school spend on average $687 on back-to-school shopping, while those with college students are expected to spend about $969 this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Nationwide, back-to-school and college spending is expected to reach $83.6 billion — a 10 percent increase from last year’s $75.8 billion, the NRF reported.

The retail trade association attributes the increase to rising consumer confidence and more young people in school.

“Families are now in a state of mind where they feel a lot more confident about the economy,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “As students head back to the classroom, retailers are prepared to meet their needs whether it’s for pencils and paper, shirts and pants or laptops and tablets.”

Kurt Phillips, store manager of the Walmart at 5800 U.S. 98 N. in Lakeland, said the store is ready to accommodate back-to-school shoppers.

“We know sales tax holidays are important to customers as they are looking to check off all of the items on their list for less,” Phillips said. “Because back-to-school costs can add up, sales tax holidays can mean saving enough money to buy an extra shirt or backpack for some families.”

The back-to-school shopping season, which runs from the moment students get out of school from summer break through September, is currently in its peak, according to NFR spokeswoman Ana Smith.

It’s the second largest shopping season of the year behind the holidays in November and December, but can’t be compared because back-to-school shopping is for needs, not necessarily wants, she said.

The NFR has found many parents wait until their state’s tax-free holiday to buy big-ticket items such as backpacks, electronics and additional clothing, after stocking up all summer on basics and necessities.

“They see the tax break as an opportunity,” said Smith, who offered additional advice on how to save this back-to-school season.

She suggested finding sales, coupons and deals online, in circulars and through store mobile apps.

She also suggested shopping a variety of stores because certain items are cheaper at some stores than others.

“Consumers have the power,” she said.

Madison Fantozzi can be reached at madison.fantozzi@theledger.com, 863-401-6971 or 863-802-7547. Follow her on Twitter @madisonfantozzi.

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