Attention Back2School shoppers: What you need to know about tax-free weekend in Houston

By Melanie Yost

HOUSTON - If your kids have outgrown all of last year's school clothes, don't fret. Tax-free weekend is here.

The Texas Sales Tax Holiday starts Friday and goes until midnight Sunday.

Tax-free weekend is an annual back-to-school event across Texas where you can avoid the regular 8.25% sales tax on most clothing, school supplies and shoes that are less than $100. 

But before you head out the door to shop until you drop, there are a few things you should know, like the best apps to easily find store deals.

How to find best tax-free weekend deals

To keep you from being caught off-guard at the register, we’ve compiled a list of common questions and answers to help you prepare before you head out the door.

Is it worth it? 

Avoiding sales tax during tax-free weekend will save you $8.25 on every $100 spent. The National Retail Federation conducted a survey concluding that parents of kindergarten through grade 12-aged children plan to spend an average of $684.79 on back-to-school supplies. That's a savings of just over $56.50. This year, shoppers are estimated to save $90.3 million in state and local sales tax during the tax-free weekend, according to the Texas Comptroller’s Office.

Is everything tax-free? 

No. During tax-free weekend you can buy most clothing, school supplies, and backpacks tax-free, but they must be under $100.

Baby diapers, baby clothes, and uniforms also qualify. But there are some specialty items, like gear your kids might need for sports, that don’t qualify. View the full list of items that do -- and don't -- qualify here.

All school supplies are tax-free, right? 

Most school supplies such as paper, binders, pencils, pens and backpacks qualify for tax exemption. Calculators, protractors and rulers also qualify. And don’t forget lunch boxes. You can find a full list of school supplies that qualify for tax exemption here.

What items are NOT tax free?

Here are a few popular items that DO NOT qualify for tax-exemption during tax free weekend:
Most accessories, like jewelry, handbags, wallets and watches

  • Specialty athletic items like cleats, ballet, jazz and golf shoes, roller blades and baseball gloves
  • Athletic bags
  • Computer bags
  • Luggage 

What if I’m ordering tax-exempt items online?

The same rules apply if you’re buying from an online retailer doing business in Texas (this includes Amazon). But remember that shipping costs are part of the item’s total sales price. Since items must be less than $100 to qualify for tax-exemption, that has to include shipping if you’re buying online. You can find more details about buying online during tax-free weekend here.

Can I put something on layaway before the holiday and buy it during tax-free weekend? 

Yes. As long as you’re purchasing qualifying items under $100 during tax-free weekend, you can purchase an item already on layaway. 

What if the store doesn't have the size I need during tax-free weekend, and I need to order it? 

As long as it’s a qualifying item under $100 and you pay for it during tax free weekend, you can still receive the tax exemption for items you have to special order. 

Can I get a tax refund for things I buy before or after tax-free weekend?

No. To receive the tax exemption, qualifying items must be purchased between Aug. 10 and Aug. 12.

What other things you should know about tax-free weekend:

Many shopping centers across Houston are adjusting their hours for tax-free weekend. 

The Galleria
Friday, Aug. 10: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.  
Saturday, Aug. 11: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 12: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

Be sure to check back for updates with other extended hours as they become available.

Copyright 2018 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.