Back to School Tax Holiday Exemption Rules

Connecticut’s tax holiday is less than one week away, and there are several ways to save money when shopping for back to school clothes and supplies.

According to the National Retail Federation, the average family with children in grades Kindergarten to 12 grade plans to spend $630 on electronics, apparel and other back to school items this year, a slight decline over 2014. Parents are expected to pare down their spending because of the economy.

The CT Dept. of Revenue Services has an extensive list of what items qualify for the tax exemption. The exemption applies to items under $100.

According to the National Retail Federation, nearly a quarter of families start shopping for school supplies two months before school starts. That means retail stores are putting their best foot forward all summer long. Better Business Bureau has some tips for consumers to take advantage of all the savings possible:

Create a budget
A budget will help shape your shopping list and limit purchases to only items you need. Knowing your budget will also allow you to put money towards larger items or a special purchase.

Research major purchases
When shopping for laptops, calculators, dorm refrigerators and other large purchases, do your homework. Research the brands you’re looking for to see what meets your expectations.

Check for educational discounts
Some computer and software companies offer discounts to students and teachers with .edu email addresses. Some of these can be quite substantial, so check around.

Watch for sales
Compare prices between different retail stores, save coupons and be sure to redeem cash-back or rebate offers. Check retailers’ social media for specials, and sign-up for email alerts for specials and discounts.

Don’t skimp on certain items There is little point in buying a $20 backpack that will have to be replaced by the end of the year. Pay a little more for items like that, which are capable of withstanding wear and tear.

Shop out of season
The tax free holiday is helpful, but some shoppers prefer to wait to stock up on back-to-school items when prices fall and seasonal items go on clearance.

Buy in bulk
Some schools ask parents to buy items that will be used by the entire class (tissues, hand sanitizer, etc.). Get together with other parents to shop in bulk. Parents of college students can also buy in bulk for snacks, toiletries and other items for future “care packages.”

Save your receipts
You’ll need them if you want to make an exchange or return an item. Remember some items are non-refundable or have a 30-day return period.

While rebates are not permitted, the tax exemptions are applicable to eligible merchandise that is bought using a store discount or coupon. If the item costs more than $100 but a sale or discount brings it below $100 per item, it is tax exempt. You are also eligible with “buy one-get one free” offers, so long as the item’s price is below $100. Internet sales also qualify for the tax break.

You do not have to make your purchases in a retail store to qualify for the tax exemptions. There is no sales tax on items under $100, and shipping costs are not considered to be part of the price of the merchandise, so it would therefore be tax exempt.

To see a full list of items eligible for the tax break, visit the  Connecticut Department of Revenue Services website.