After a long, hot summer it is finally time for one of the best occasions of the season: School supply shopping. Despite the bittersweet signaling of another academic year, there is something magical about rows of blank notebooks, unsharpened pencils and erasers you haven’t lost yet.
And what would a great season be without a holiday to kick it off? That’s right - tax-free weekend is upon us.
For those who live in Kansas, this means a short trip to Missouri.
Q: What is tax-free weekend?
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A: Tax-free weekend for our region runs from Aug. 3 to Aug. 5. Certain qualifying items have a lower tax rate or possibly a total tax exemption all weekend long.
Q: Where can I shop?
A: Although Kansas doesn’t participate in tax-free weekend, there are plenty of deals to go around on the Missouri side. For a total look at how the counties break down their tax-free offerings, check out this PDF from the Missouri Department of Revenue. The spirit of tax-free weekend is more about the items purchased than the vendors. The most popular stores will likely be big box outlets like Target, Walmart and Best Buy.
Q: What’s included? Any exceptions?
A: The short answer is clothing, school supplies and computers. There are some exceptions and rules that apply, though. So in the spirit of school shopping, shop smart.
Clothing includes any necessary articles for an outfit. Pants, shoes, or undergarments will qualify. However, accessories like headbands, belts, watches or hats will not. Clothing purchases over $100 do not qualify for a tax break.
School supplies are defined as materials used in standard school environments for educational purposes. Your classroom’s requests of tissues or hand sanitizer don’t qualify, but writing and art supplies, textbooks, calculators and backpacks will. When in doubt, just ask a sales associate. To qualify for the tax break, school supplies cannot exceed $50.
Personal computers include laptops, desktops and many of the accessories. Keyboards, USB drives, monitors, printers and scanners are all included. In addition, software for computers can be purchased at a low or zero tax rate, as long as it does not exceed $350. The tax-free limit for computers is $1,500.
Q: Does online shopping count?
A: Online shopping counts, provided you are shopping from a participating city or county. If you buy online during the weekend and the transaction is completed, you are qualified-even if the delivery date falls after Aug. 5.
The lists here are not exhaustive, but they do give you a good idea of all the great deals waiting for you this weekend. What better way to kick off a school year than on a financially savvy note!
Kat’s Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, visit communityamerica.com.