A List of United States Sales Tax Holidays

Many states in the United States offer sales tax holidays on which state sales taxes are not collected on designated types of products for a predetermined number of days. In 2010, 19 states and the District of Columbia offered some kind of tax break on items ranging from school supplies to energy-saving appliances. 

The purpose of sales tax holidays is twofold. First, it is an incentive for shoppers to get into stores and spend. It is assumed shoppers will be spending on non-tax exempt items as well once they get in the stores and perhaps spending in greater amounts than they would have otherwise, thereby offsetting some of the taxes lost. Second, the move makes many items more affordable, particularly in tough economic times, and is a way to help poorer families get needed items to outfit children for school or prepare for anticipated disaster. Some of the tax-exempt items, such as firearms and hunting supplies, are more for business development.

Following are state tax holidays broken down into the four primary groups: school-related items, energy-saving items, disaster-related materials and special items. Some of the tax holidays have already occurred. In most cases, the states must renew the legislation for tax holidays year by year.

School Related Items

New York state, which does not have a tax holiday, began the trend of targeted tax exemption with a 1996, one-week tax holiday on school supplies and clothing. Currently (as of August 2010), the following states and the District of Columbia exempt sales tax on the listed school-related items on the dates indicated.

  • Alabama--books, clothing, computers, school supplies; Aug. 6 to 8
  • Connecticut--clothing; Aug. 15 to 21
  • District of Columbia--clothing, school supplies; entire months of August and November
  • Florida--books, clothing, school supplies; Aug. 13 to 15
  • Illinois--clothing, school supplies; Aug. 6 to 15
  • Iowa--clothing; Aug. 6 to 7
  • Louisiana--all tangible personal property; Aug. 29 to 30
  • Maryland--clothing; Aug. 8 to 14
  • Massachusetts--all tangible personal property; Aug. 14 to 15
  • Mississippi--clothing; July 30 to 31
  • Missouri--clothing, computers, school supplies; Aug. 6 to 8
  • New Mexico--clothing, computers, school supplies; Aug. 6 to 8
  • North Carolina--clothing, computers, school supplies, sports equipment, instructional materials; Aug. 6 to 8
  • Oklahoma--clothing; Aug. 6 to 8
  • South Carolina--clothing, computers, school supplies; Aug. 6 to 8
  • Tennessee--clothing, computers, school supplies; Aug. 6 to 8
  • Texas--clothing, backpacks, school supplies; Aug. 20 to 22
  • Vermont--tangible personal products; March 6
  • Virginia--clothing, school supplies; Aug. 6 to 8

Energy Saving Items

The following five states offer tax exemptions on Energy Star products on the indicated dates.

  • Maryland--Energy Star products; Feb. 19 to 21, 2011
  • Missouri--Energy Star products; April 19 to 25
  • North Carolina--Energy Star products; Nov. 5 to 7
  • Texas--Energy Star products; May 29 to 31
  • West Virginia--Energy Star products; Sept. 1 to Nov. 30

Disaster Preparedness Items

Currently, just two states exempt taxes on disaster items.

  • Louisiana--Hurricane preparedness items; Aug. 6 to 7
  • Virginia--Hurricane preparedness items, generators; May 25 to 31

Special Items

These states exempt sales taxes on guns and some hunting supplies on specific dates.

  • Louisiana--Firearms, ammunition, hunting supplies; Sept. 3 to 5
  • South Carolina--Guns, rifles and handguns; Nov. 26 to 27