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Tax-free weekend: Back-to-school shoppers can save on select items

By Staff | Aug 1, 2013

Families preparing for the upcoming school year can buy laptops and tablets tax free this weekend. The Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday kicked off today in Florida and runs through Sunday.

As in previous years, clothing, footwear and certain clothing accessories and school supplies are tax exempt. For the first time, personal computers and certain related accessories for personal use are included.

“Most families in Florida own a computer of one type of another, and we expect that many will take advantage of the tax savings to purchase computers for their kids or upgrade their own,” Rick McAllister, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation, wrote in a recent prepared statement.

“And you’ll see great deals on clothes, shoes and school supplies,” McAllister said. “It’s a winning proposition for Florida’s families and for our retailers because we’ll see a good boost in commerce.”

No sales tax or local option tax – discretionary sales surtax – will be collected on sales of clothing, footwear and certain accessories selling for $75 or less per item and $15 or less for certain supplies.

Personal computers and related accessories selling for $750 or less per item are exempt under the law.

Steve Durham, store manager at the Walmart on Del Prado Boulevard South, expects to see a spike in the sale of computers and computer-related items over the weekend due to the tax-free exemption.

“We’re anticipating electronics to be extremely busy this weekend,” he said.

With students and families getting for school, the store is expecting more sales overall.

“I’m anticipating a busy weekend,” Durham said. “Any time they have an event like this, there’s an increase of foot traffic in the building, so we’re anticipating that.”

“It’s going to be really busy,” he added. “We anticipate it being very big.”

Top-selling school supplies have ranged from apparel to stationary in previous years.

“The basic supplies that kids need for school,” Durham said.

The store has kiosks set up with supply lists from Lee County schools.

Walmart will have its weekly tab and monthly clearance going on for additional savings.

While Family Dollar does not carry computers or related accessories, the stores sell pens, notebooks, glue sticks, book bags and lunch accessories at an affordable price. Some locations even sell uniforms.

“We know that getting students ready for back-to-school can be stressful for families, but at Family Dollar it doesn’t have to be,” spokesman Bryn Winburn reported via an e-mail Thursday.

The company expects many customers to take advantage of the sales tax holiday.

“Shopping during the tax-free holiday means that our customers will be able to stretch their dollar even further,” he said.

“We are ready to help them cross all the items they need off their checklist,” Winburn added.

According to the Florida Department of Revenue, clothing means any article of wearing apparel intended to be worn on or about the body. Watches, jewelry and umbrellas are not tax exempt.

The list of school supplies includes writing utensils, notebooks and notebook paper, lunch boxes, construction paper, folders and binders, scissors, glue and paste, rulers, calculators and more.

Under the law, the term “personal computer” includes any electronic book reader, laptop, desktop, handheld, tablet or tower computer. Cellphones and video game consoles are not covered.

Related accessories range from keyboards and non-recreational software, to modems and routers.

For a complete list of the sales tax exempt items, visit online: dor.myflorida.com/dor/.