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Making the best of back to school sales tax holiday


This year’s sales tax holiday is this weekend, Aug. 3-4, just in time for back to school shopping, and Laura Connerly, assistant professor for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, who has a few tips to help families save money.

The sales tax holiday means that neither the 6.5 percent state sales tax, nor local sales taxes, will be collected on specific items purchased Aug. 3-4. (See http://1.usa.gov/1cdD0oU for an itemized list from the State Department of Finance and Administration.)

* Schedule your shopping trip. “The sales tax holiday is Saturday and Sunday, so don’t go shopping Friday night or Monday morning expecting to benefit from the sales tax exemption,” she said.

* Have a list and know what’s exempt “Make sure you have a list of all the items your student or students may need and know which ones are exempt,” Connerly said. “Clothing and sneakers are exempt, but not specialty shoes such as cleats or running spikes, or fabric if you are planning to sew your children’s clothing.” All school and art supplies are exempt.

* Comparison shop. “Comparison shop for those big ticket items, including text books,” she said. And while not having to pay sales tax can be a savings, comparison shopping may reap bigger benefits.

“My oldest college student has saved hundreds of dollars by comparison shopping, Connerly said. “For example, he bought a $150 textbook for just $35. Compared to what you save on the taxes, comparison shopping can prove to be your biggest savings tactic during back-to-school time.”

For more information about managing your finances visit www.arfamilies.org/money.htm or contact your county extension agent.