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Sales Tax Holidays Explained

By Blair Lozier

As inflation continues to put pressures on communities across the country, many states are implementing a sales tax holiday, or a period when specific items are exempt from states sales tax, to help encourage consumer spending and provide relief for those individuals feeling the pinch of rising costs.

A common example is a “back to school” tax holiday, which removes sales tax on items children need for school including shoes, clothing and school supplies . Recently, states have enacted emergency supplies holidays at times when natural disasters are most prevalent. The tax relief is generally focused on power generators, housing protection and materials to help recover from a disaster that occurs.

This is not a new practice — since 1997, 27 states have implemented at least one sales tax holiday. Michigan and Ohio enacted the first sales tax holidays in 1980, focused on automobile sales. A few years later, New York implemented a sales tax holiday on clothing to compete with neighboring New Jersey, which did not have a sales tax on clothing at the time. In 2021, 17 states temporarily suspended sales taxes to encourage consumer spending, particularly on goods they would purchase anyway.

Note: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon do not tax sales of consumer goods.
Data from 1980-2017 was gathered through the Tax Foundation.

2022 Sales Tax Holidays

Back to School

This year, 16 states have enacted a “back to school” sales tax holiday stretching between July 15 and Aug. 27, with 11 of those states having holidays during Aug. 5-7. All 16 states include clothing and footwear as sales tax exemptions, and eight include school supplies, accessories and computers among the tax-exempt items. Florida’s holiday also includes learning aids.

StateDatesWhat is IncludedItemized list
AlabamaJuly 15-17Clothing, computers, computer software supplies, school supplies and booksQualifying Items
ArkansasAug. 6-7Clothing, clothing accessories, electronic devices, school supplies, art supplies and instructional materialsQualifying Items
ConnecticutAug. 21-27Clothing and footwearQualifying items
FloridaJuly 25-Aug. 7Learning aid items, clothing and accessories, school supplies and computers and computer-related accessoriesQualifying Items  
IllinoisAug. 5-14Clothing, footwear and school suppliesQualifying Items  
IowaAug. 5-6Clothing and footwearQualifying Items  
MarylandAugust 14-20Clothing, footwear and accessoriesQualifying Items  
MississippiJuly 29-30Clothing, footwear, accessories and school suppliesQualifying Items  
MissouriAug. 5-7Clothing, school supplies, computers and software and graphing calculatorsQualifying Items
New MexicoAug. 5-7Clothing, footwear, computers and school suppliesQualifying Items  
OhioAug. 5-7Clothing and school suppliesQualifying Items  
OklahomaAug. 5-7Clothing and footwearQualifying Items
South CarolinaAug. 5-7Clothing, accessories, footwear, school supplies, computers and backpacksQualifying Items  
TennesseeJuly 29-31Clothing, school supplies and computersQualifying Items  
TexasAug. 5-7Clothing, footwear, school supplies, face masks, backpacks and school supplies Clothing School Supplies
West VirginiaAug. 5-8Clothing, school supplies, instruction materials, computers and sports equipmentQualifying Items  

Energy Efficient Appliances

Four states have enacted sales tax holidays in 2022 that are designed to encourage renting, leasing or buying energy-efficient appliances. In Missouri, individual counties have the discretion about whether their merchants participate.

StateDatesWhat is IncludedItemized List
FloridaJuly 1, 2022- June 30, 2023Energy star appliancesQualifying Items
MarylandFeb. 19-21Energy Star appliancesQualifying Items
MissouriApril 19-25Energy Star appliancesQualifying Items
TexasMay 28-30Energy Star appliancesQualifying Items

Severe Weather Preparedness

Three states that are prone to emergencies or disasters enacted sales tax holidays for emergency supplies this year. Qualifying items generally include generators, batteries and various supplies under a designated dollar amount.

StateDatesWhat is IncludedItemized List
AlabamaFeb. 25-27Emergency suppliesQualifying Items
FloridaMay 28-June 10Emergency and pet evacuation suppliesQualifying Items
TexasApril 23-25Emergency suppliesQualifying Items

Other Forms of Sales Tax Holidays

StateDatesWhat is IncludedItemized List
ConnecticutApril 10-16Clothing and footwearQualifying Items
FloridaJuly 1-7Freedom Week salesQualifying Items
FloridaSept. 3-9Skilled worker toolsQualifying Items
FloridaOct. 1-31Motor fuelQualifying Items
Massachusetts  Aug. 13-14Annual holidayQualifying Items
MississippiAug. 26-28Second Amendment holidayQualifying Items
NevadaOct. 28-30National Guard members pay no sales taxQualifying Items
TennesseeAug. 1-31GroceriesQualifying Items

Costs and Benefits

Tax holidays can have a direct impact on consumers. The timing of consumer spending is often responsive to tax holidays, according to the Federal Reserve. A Massachusetts study found that sales tax holidays boost sales during the entire month of the holiday. According to economic analysts, consumers with higher income take advantage of sales tax holidays more than lower-income consumers. However, whether the holidays contribute to long-term economic activity depends on additional various internal and external factors.

Additional Resources:

2022 Sales Tax Holidays:

Sales Tax Holiday History: