It’s commonly called a Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday, but the truth is that any Florida shopper can skip the sales tax on a multitude of items from Aug. 5 through Aug. 7.
The sales tax exemption starts a minute after midnight on Aug. 5 and ends a minute before midnight on Aug. 7.
Back to school shopping is an annual tradition for many families.
Nationally, back-to-school spending is expected to reach $75.8 billion this year, according to a survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics for the National Retail Federation.
That’s up from $68 billion last year, according to a story on consumer trends posted on the NRF’s website.
Locally, Tampa Premium Outlets has kicked off its back-to-school season, with a campaign targeted at teens that features three seasonal trends inspired by ’80s and ‘90s fashions — Off-Beat, Modern Utility and ’90s Nostalgia.
“Back-to-school shoppers spend more during this season than they do during Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day combined, so we want to make sure the experience is a pleasurable one that appeals to students and parents alike,” Stacey Nance, general manager at Tampa Premium Outlets said, in a news release.
“Our campaign celebrates the fashion trends of the past and today — the evolution of fashion and mixing the old with the new to ‘Find your style,’” added Nance, whose center opened last October, off State Road 56 and Interstate 75.
Tampa Premium Outlets also is hosting a sidewalk sale during mall hours, Aug. 5 through Aug. 7. It also has the GAP spend-and-receive gift card promotion. When a guest buys at least $150 worth of any Gap family brand gift cards, the guest receives a $30 Simon Visa gift card. That special runs July 29 to Aug 26. Check with Guest Services for more details.
Not far away, off State Road 56 and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, The Shops at Wiregrass also is gearing up for the sales tax holiday.
“If the current sales trend continues, we are expecting to have a very good back-to-school season,” said Debbie Detweiler, director of marketing for the regional shopping mall, via email.
The mall is having a special deal during the sales tax holiday. Shoppers who spend $200 in a single day, from Aug. 5 through Aug. 7, can get a $20 mall gift card. The shopper must bring same-day receipts to the mall’s Guest Services to receive the gift card. Department store and restaurant purchases cannot be counted toward the $200, and gift cards will be given out only as long as supplies last.
The Florida sales tax break applies to a multitude of items, but there are some exclusions, too.
Clothing, footwear and certain accessories selling for $60 or less per item, and certain school supplies selling for $15 or less, are generally exempt from state and local sales taxes — but, there are many exceptions to that rule.
It can get a little tricky to interpret.
For instance, dress, garden and work gloves sold for less than $60 are exempt, but athletic gloves are taxable because sporting equipment is excluded in the definition of clothing, according to the Florida Department of Revenue’s website.
Here’s the way the state defines clothing: “’Clothing’ means any article of wearing apparel, including all footwear (except skis, swim fins, roller blades and skates) intended to be worn on or about the human body. Clothing does not include watches, watchbands, jewelry, umbrellas, or handkerchiefs.”
Here’s how the state defines school supplies: “‘School supplies’ means pens, pencils, erasers, crayons, notebooks, notebook filler paper, legal pads, binders, lunchboxes, construction paper, markers, folders, poster board, composition books, poster paper, scissors, cellophane tape, glue, paste, rules, computer disks, protractors, compasses and calculators.”
Exclusions to the sales tax holiday include:
- Any item of clothing selling for more than $60
- Any school supply item selling for more than $15
- Personal computers and computer-related accessories
- Sales of clothing or school supplies in a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishment or airport.
It’s also important to remember that the exemption is based on the sales price of each item, not the total sale amount. So, it’s possible to buy three $59 dresses at the same time and still get the exemption, because each item meets the requirement of having a selling price of $60 or less.
Another thing that’s good to know is that there is no limit on how many tax-exempt items can be purchased during the sales tax holiday.
According to the National Retail Federation’s survey, families with children in kindergarten through 12th grade expect to spend an average of $673.57 on apparel and accessories, electronics, shoes and school supplies, according to the survey. That’s up from $630.36 last year.
College students and families with children in college plan to spend an average of $888.71, according to the survey. That’s a slight dip from last year, when the average was $899.18.
For more information on the state’s sales tax holiday, visit the Florida Department of Revenue’s website at DOR.MyFlorida.com.
Published August 3, 2016