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Plan tax-free shopping for clothes, computers, school supplies

sales-tax-holidaySmart shoppers know there’s a right time and a wrong time to make a purchase. And the last weekend in July is definitely the right time. The annual Back to School Tennessee Sales Tax Holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 28, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, July 30.

During this weekend, certain goods can be purchased tax free, including clothes, school supplies, school art supplies and computer equipment below certain prices. There are exceptions in each category, but it’s a good time for anyone to stretch the budget.

The sales tax savings are not just for students, either. Shoppers can buy bridal gowns, clerical vestments, scout uniforms and more. Following are overviews of what is tax-exempt eligible and what is not.

Tax-free clothing – $100 or less

  • Tax-free items include general apparel that costs $100 or less per item (shirts, pants, jackets, socks, shoes, dresses, etc.)
  • Items that are normally sold together, such as shoes, cannot be split up to stay beneath th$100 threshold.
  • What’s still taxable: Apparel that costs more than $100; items such as jewelry, handbags or sports and recreational equipment; and items purchased for business or trade use.

School supplies & school art supplies – $100 or less

  • Anyone (not just students) can buy certain approved school supplies.
    Tax-free items include school and art supplies with a purchase price of $100 or less per item, such as binders, books, backpacks, crayons, paper, pens, pencils and rulers, as well as art supplies such as glazes, clay, paints, drawing pads, and artist paintbrushes.
    As with clothing, school and art Items that are normally sold together cannot be split up to stay beneath the $100-per-item threshold.

Computers – $1,500 or less

  • Tax-free items include desktop computers, laptops and tablets (such as iPads) with a purchase price of $1,500 or more. Other components that are bundled with the computer are included, such as speakers, monitor, keyboard, mouse, cables and basic software.
  • Components, however, are taxable when they are sold separately from the computer, such as keyboards and monitors.
  • The computer must be for personal (not business) use.
  • Items that are still taxable include storage media, individually purchased software, printers and supplies, video game consoles, electronic readers, personal digital assistants and cell phones (including smart phones).

Master list of tax-free items

  • Aerobic clothing
  • Antique clothing (for wear)
  • Aprons/clothing shields
  • Athletic socks
  • Baby clothes
  • Baby diapers
  • Baby receiving blankets
  • Backpacks
  • Bandanas
  • Bathing suits
  • Belts
  • Bibs
  • Binders
  • Blackboard chalk
  • Blouses
  • Book bags
  • General-purpose boots (winter, dress, cowboy, hiking)
  • Bow ties
  • Bowling shirts
  • Bras
  • Bridal gowns and bridal veils
  • Calculators
  • Camp clothing
  • Caps
  • Cellophane tape
  • Chalk
  • Chef uniforms for school
  • Choir and altar clothing
  • Clay
  • Clerical vestments
  • Clothing ($100 or less per item)
  • Coats
  • Compasses
  • Composition books
  • Computers (desktops, notebooks, laptops and tablets, if $1,500 or less; includes CPU and other bundled components such as speakers, monitor, keyboard, mouse, cables, and basic software)
  • Corsets and corset laces
  • Costumes (including novelty children’s costumes)
  • Coveralls
  • Cowboy boots
  • Crayons
  • Diapers (adult and baby, cloth or disposable)
  • Dress gloves and shoes
  • Dresses
  • Ear muffs
  • Erasers
  • Folders (expandable, pocket, plastic and manila)
  • Formal clothing purchases
  • Galoshes
  • Garters/garter belts
  • Girdles
  • Glazes
  • Gloves
  • Glue (includes paste, as well as paste sticks)
  • Golf clothing (caps, dresses, shirts, skirts and pants)
  • Graduation cap and gown purchases
  • Gym suits and uniforms
  • General-purpose hats (cowboy, baseball and knit)
  • Highlighters
  • Hiking boots
  • Hooded shirts and sweatshirts
  • Hosiery
  • Index cards and index card boxes
  • Jackets
  • Jeans
  • Jerseys (sports)
  • Jogging apparel
  • Jogging bras
  • Knitted caps and hats
  • Lab coats
  • Leather clothing
  • Leg warmers
  • Legal pads
  • Leotards
  • Lingerie
  • Lunch boxes
  • Markers
  • Mittens
  • Neckties
  • Neckwear (including ties and scarves)
  • Nightgowns and night shirts
  • Notebooks
  • Overalls
  • Overshoes and rubber shoes
  • Pads (sketch and drawing)
  • Paintbrushes for artwork
  • Paints for artwork (acrylic, tempera and oil)
  • Pajamas
  • Pants
  • Paper (loose-leaf ruled notebook paper, copy paper, graph paper, tracing paper, manila paper, colored paper, poster board and construction paper)
  • Pencil boxes
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Ponchos
  • Poster board
  • Prom dresses
  • Protractors
  • Raincoats
  • Rain hats
  • Religious clothing
  • Robes
  • Rubber thongs/flip-flops
  • Rulers
  • Running shoes (without cleats)
  • Sandals
  • Scarves
  • School supply boxes
  • School uniforms
  • Scissors
  • Scout uniforms
  • Shawls and wraps
  • Shirts
  • Shoe inserts
  • Shoe laces
  • Shoes
  • Shorts
  • Ski masks
  • Ski suits
  • Slacks
  • Sleepwear (nightgowns and pajamas)
  • Slippers
  • Slips
  • Sneakers
  • Socks (including athletic)
  • Sports coats
  • Stockings
  • Suits (including slacks, vests and jackets)
  • Support hose
  • Suspenders
  • Sweat suits
  • Sweaters
  • Sweatshirts
  • Swimsuits
  • Tablet computer
  • Tennis apparel (skirts, dresses, shoes)
  • Thongs
  • Textbooks
  • Ties/neckwear
  • Tights
  • Trousers
  • T-shirts
  • Tuxedo purchases
  • Undergarments/underwear (including long johns)
  • Uniforms (athletic or non-athletic)
  • Veils
  • Vests (except hunting and water)
  • Walking shoes
  • Watercolors
  • Wedding gowns
  • Windbreakers
  • Workbooks
  • Writing tablets

Master list of taxable items

Tennessee law specifies that these things cannot be exempt from taxes:

  • Belt buckles (if sold separately from belts)
  • Breathing masks
  • Bridal apparel other than gowns or veils
  • Briefcases
  • Cell phones (including smart phones)
  • Clothing accessories or equipment (incidental items worn on the person or in conjunction with clothing)
  • Compact disks
  • Computer printers and printer supplies (paper and ink)
  • Computer software (if purchased separately from a computer; basic software bundled with a computer system is exempt)
  • Computer storage media (diskettes or compact disks)
  • Cosmetics
  • Diskettes
  • Electronic readers
  • Emblems
  • Fabric
  • Face shields
  • Fins for swimming
  • Glasses (safety)
  • Globes
  • Gloves (protective or welders’)
  • Gloves (sports)
  • Goggles (safety or sports)
  • Guards (for sports: hand, elbow, mouth and shin)
  • Hair notions
  • Handbags
  • Hard hats
  • Hearing protectors
  • Helmets
  • Jewelry
  • Jump drives
  • Leased items
  • Maps
  • Paintbrushes for any purpose other than artwork
  • Paints other than those defined as school art supplies
  • Patches
  • Personal digital assistants (PDAs) and handheld electronic schedulers
  • Printer ink
  • Printer supplies
  • Printers
  • Protective equipment (items designed as protection of the wearer against injury or disease or as protections against damage or injury of other persons or property, but not suitable for general use)
  • Reference books
  • Reference maps
  • Rented items
  • Respirators (paint or dust)
  • Sewing items (equipment, supplies and materials)
  • Certain shoes (ballet, tap and any cleated/spiked sports shoes)
  • Shoulder pads for dresses and jackets
  • Shoulder pads for sports
  • Skates (roller and ice)
  • Ski boots
  • Skin diving suits
  • Smart phones
  • Sport or recreational equipment items designed for human use and worn in conjunction with an athletic or recreational activity that are not suitable for general use
  • Sunglasses
  • Telephones
  • Thread
  • Thumb drives
  • Tool belts
  • Umbrellas
  • Video game consoles
  • Wallets
  • Watches
  • Welders’ gloves
  • Wetsuits
  • Yarn
  • Zippers

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