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Sales tax holiday a timely benefit

This weekend’s sales tax holiday should provide a nice economic break for area consumers.

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs recently reminded shoppers that the annual observance — which is set by the state Legislature — will begin Friday and continue through the close of business on Sunday.

The tax holiday weekend has been an annual event since 1999 and it arrives at a critical time of year for parents.

The law exempts most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced at less than $100 from sales taxes during the three-day period. Therefore, the event should be especially beneficial for folks hoping to reduce back-to-school expenses.

By not having to pay sales tax on qualifying purchases, consumers could save about $8 on every $100 they spend. If you doubt the importance of such savings, then you’ve never been a parent, or you’re independently wealthy.

Eliminating the sales tax on certain items is about the same as finding an item you need on sale, except you don’t have to go searching for the bargains. Shoppers know going into the store what items are included in the sales tax holiday.

When it’s time to outfit your youngsters for another school year, saving a few dollars here and there can really add up. Shoppers across the state are expected to save an estimated $82.7 million in state and local sales taxes, according to information on the comptroller’s website. You can find the list of tax-free apparel and school supplies at

It pays to do a little research before you go shopping to make sure that all the items your kids see and fall in love with at the store qualify for the exemption. You may need to steer them toward certain items and away from others, but most parents already make that a habit.

For example, backpacks priced at less than $100 sold for use by students are exempt during the sales tax holiday. The exemption also includes messenger bags and backpacks with wheels, provided that the item can also be worn on the back like a traditional backpack, according to the website.

However, the sales tax exemption does not include items that are defined as luggage, briefcases, athletic/duffle/gym bags, computer bags, purses or framed backpacks.

A consumer’s choice of clothing or footwear could also affect the ultimate cost of a back-to-school shopping trip.

Special clothing or footwear that the manufacturer primarily designed for athletic activity or protective use may not qualify for the sales tax exemption, but shoes and apparel commonly worn for purposes other than athletic activity may qualify.

Families will also get a sales tax break on most school supplies priced at less than $100, and as any parent will tell you, that’s another boost to the household budget’s bottom line. As always, we urge you to spend your dollars at home — local merchants deserve your business.

So, get those shopping lists ready — you’ll want to take advantage of the available savings.