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‘Tax-free’ holiday begins today

By Staff | Aug 3, 2017

Starting today shoppers can keep a little extra cash in their pockets with the tax-free holiday.

The Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday kicked off at midnight and will run up through midnight on Sunday. During this period, Florida law directs that no sales tax or local option tax – or discretionary sales surtax – will be collected on certain purchases, the Florida Department of Revenue reported.

Purchases that are eligible for the tax-free holiday include clothing, footwear and certain accessories selling for $60 or less per item, as well as certain school supplies selling for $15 or less per item.

In addition, personal computers and certain computer-related accessories purchased for non-commercial home or personal use that sell for $750 or less are also exempt from sales tax.

On Thursday, Cape Coral’s JCPenney was stocked and ready to go for the holiday.

“We’re looking for a great turnout,” supervisor Joyce Rose said.

“We are well-stocked for our back-to-school – and for all ages,” she said.

Rose noted that the holiday applies to clothing and items for all ages, not just children.

The National Retail Federation reported that this year’s total back-to-school spending is expected to reach $83.6 billion, up from $75.8 billion last year. Families with children in grades K-12 plan to spend an average $687.72 each, for a total of $29.5 billion – 8 percent more than last year’s $27.3 billion.

“Families are now in a state of mind where they feel a lot more confident about the economy,” Matthew Shay, NRF’s president and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement.

“With stronger employment levels and a continued increase in wages, consumers are spending more and we are optimistic that they will continue to do so throughout the rest of the year,” he said. “As students head back to the classroom, retailers are prepared to meet their needs whether it’s for pencils and paper, shirts and pants or laptops and tablets.”

When it comes to school shopping, no tax is due on any clothing, wallet or bag, including handbags, backpacks, fanny packs and diaper bags, according to the Department of Revenue. Clothing means any article of wearing apparel, including footwear. Items such as briefcases and watches are not covered.

“We have school uniforms for girls and boys,” Rose said. “And in quite a variety of colors.”

JCPenney also carries all the necessary basics, including underwear and socks.

“We have quite a variety of shoes, too,” she said.

Rose added that the store’s website offers an even larger selection.

“We have anything and everything,” she said.

Some examples of school supplies include pens, pencils, crayons, notebook paper, legal pads, binders, lunch boxes, construction paper, folders, poster board, composition books, scissors and calculators.

Computer and printer paper, masking tape, staples and staplers are taxable items.

According to Rose, JCPenney will have children’s backpacks for $7.

As for extra discounts, shoppers can find coupons online and in local newspapers.

“There’s a $10 off of $25 (coupon),” she said.

According to the Department of Revenue, the tax-free “personal computer” term includes any electronic book reader, laptop, desktop, handheld, tablet and tower computer. Items not included are cell phones, video game consoles, digital media receivers and devices not used to process data.

The holiday does not apply to:

n Any item of clothing selling for more than $60

* Any school supply item selling for more than $15

* Books that are not otherwise exempt

* Personal computers and computer-related accessories purchased for commercial purposes

* Rentals or leases of any eligible items

* Repairs or alterations of any eligible items

* Sales of any eligible items in a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishment or airport

For Lee County Public Schools, the first day of school is Thursday.

During August, JCPenney is offering $10 haircuts at its salon for ages 12 and under.

“Which is really great,” Rose said.

For more information about the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday or to view a list of tax-exempt items, visit the Florida Department of Revenue at: floridarevenue.com/backtoschool/.

JCPenney is at 2301 Del Prado Blvd., Suite 700.