For many Texas parents the month of August means time to start getting the kids ready to head back to school for a new year. Those making trips to local stores to purchase school supplies and clothing will benefit from the annual Sales Tax Holiday weekend. The state’s tax holiday will take place on August 11, 12, and 13.


As in years past, the law exempts most clothing, footwear, and backpacks priced under $100 from sales and use taxes, which means shoppers save about $8 on every $100 they spend. While the August tax holiday is aimed at helping parents save money on back-to-school items, anyone can take advantage of the tax-free weekend. The exemption applies to eligible items that sell for less than $100, regardless of how many items are sold on the same invoice to a customer. For example, if a customer purchases two shirts for $80 each, then both items qualify for the exemption, even though the customer’s total purchase price ($160) exceeds $99.99. Lay-away plans can be used again this year to take advantage of the sales tax holiday.


Backpacks and book bags under $100 and used by elementary and secondary students are also exempt. A backpack is a pack with straps one wears on the back. The exemption during the sales tax holiday includes backpacks with wheels, provided they can also be worn on the back like a traditional backpack, and messenger bags. The exemption does not include items that are reasonably defined as luggage, briefcases, athletic/duffle/gym bags, computer bags, purses or framed backpacks. Ten or fewer backpacks can be purchased tax-free at one time without providing an exemption certificate to the seller.


Additionally, items used primarily for athletic activity, such as football uniforms, are excluded from the exemption. However, tennis shoes, sweatshirts, and swimsuits, which are commonly worn for purposes other than athletic activity, qualify for the exemption. Other excluded items include accessories, jewelry, and handbags. You can find a detailed list of what is exempted and what is not exempted during the tax free weekend on the internet at www.texastaxholiday.org.


The Sales Tax Holiday has been in effect since 1999. The comptroller estimates that shoppers will save more than $87 million over the weekend.


Larry Phillips of Sherman represents District 62 in the Texas House of Representatives. His telephone number in Sherman is 903-891-7297. His telephone number in Austin is 512-463-0297. His address in Austin is P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768-2910. His email address is larry.phillips@house.state.tx.us.