Alabama’s annual sales tax holiday starts Friday

Alabama’s annual sales tax holiday starts Friday
For three days starting Friday, purchases of school supplies, computers and clothing will be exempt from state sales tax and, in many locations, local sales taxes. (The Tuscaloosa News)

Back-to-school shoppers in Alabama can take advantage of the sales tax holiday that starts Friday and runs through the weekend.

The 14th annual sales tax holiday for school items begins Friday at 12:01 a.m. and goes through midnight Sunday. Items exempt from sales taxes at stores statewide include school supplies, computers, books and clothing.

During the weekend, the state’s 4% sales tax rate will be waived for approved purchases, including clothing less than $100 per item, computers and related equipment priced $750 or less per item, school supplies costing $50 or less per item and books costing up to $30 each. More than 300 cities and counties throughout Alabama will also waive their local taxes, according to the Alabama Retail Association.

Melissa Warnke, manager of communications and engagement for the retail association, said the state collects a significant amount of sales tax revenue during tax-free weekends because shoppers are still making purchases such as gasoline and food.

“It’s a boost to our local economy and a boost to local retailers,” Warnke said.

For years, the statewide holiday was held during the first week of August. The Legislature passed a law in 2017 changing the dates to July so parents would have a chance to shop for children before the first day of school.

Alabama shoppers make only 10 percent of their purchases online, Warnke said. The sales tax holiday is frequently a weekend during which parents have their kids in tow to try on clothing for the upcoming school year.

“This is an event you do with children,” she said.

Jim Page, president of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, said the holiday is a “win-win” for both consumers and businesses.

“It seems it grows in popularity year after year,” he said. “More and more people are taking advantage of that.”

Page said Tuscaloosa County’s college student population is a significant driver of the local economy. With many of them away during the summer, the tax holiday helps boost local businesses, he said.

The state also holds a severe-weather sales tax holiday the last full weekend of February that waives taxes on items such as generators, batteries and other emergency-related items.

Here are some of this weekend’s tax-exempt items in three major categories:

  • Clothing — belts, boots, caps, coats, diapers, dresses, gloves, gym suits, hats, hosiery, jackets, jeans, neckties, pajamas, pants, raincoats, robes, sandals, scarves, school uniforms, shirts, shoes, shorts, socks, sneakers and underwear.
  • Computers and software — computers, computer storage, handheld schedulers, personal digital assistants, printers and printer supplies.

Visit the Alabama Retail Association’s website for a detailed list of items exempt during the back-to-school holiday.

This story originally appeared in The Tuscaloosa News.

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