No one wants to think about the end of summer in the Hill Country and going back to school while it’s still hot and July. Good news is that you don’t have to think about it. You can wait a few days with August right around the corner. And that’s the time when many start back-to-school shopping.
The only reason this brings up back-to-school time is because you don’t want to miss out on the Texas Tax-Free Weekend coming up on Aug. 9 – 11, 2019. You want time to prepare for the Texas sales tax holiday to make the most of it without overspending. The awesome thing about tax-free weekend is that it’s for everyone, not just families with kids going back to school.
Here are a few important things to know about the sales tax holiday:
- Items $100 or more are taxable.
- Stores will not give out rainchecks.
- Keep all your receipts.
Make the most of tax-free weekend and back-to-school shopping with these four tips.
- Study the official list
Many websites list rules and what’s taxable vs. tax-free. But these lists aren’t always accurate. The official Sales Tax Holiday list comes from the Comptroller of Texas. You might want to print the list or save it to your phone.
First, any item that’s exempt from taxes does not qualify for the tax break if it costs $100 or more. While tennis shoes are exempt, $100+ tennis shoes are taxed. Furthermore, not all shoes qualify for the tax break. That’s why it helps to review the Texas comptroller’s list.
The following types of footwear are not tax-free:
- Ski boots
And just because one item is taxable, others may not be. For example, tap dance shoes are taxable, but leotards and tights are not if they cost less than $100. And yes, sandals, flip-flops, and cowboy boots are exempt! Belts are exempt, but not stand-alone belt buckles.
Would you categorize lunch boxes under school supplies? Most people don’t, but it’s tax-exempt. Here are tax-free items that may surprise you:
- Graduation caps and gowns
- Shawls and wraps
So, make list from the Comptroller of Texas your shopping BFF.
- Look up store hours
Tax-free weekend store hours aren’t as extended as Black Friday’s, but some stores do open earlier and stay open later. The ideal time to shop is as soon as the store opens. That’s why you want to check the hours before you go. A store that opens at 10 am may open at 9 am for the three-day weekend. And that one hour could mean the difference between no lines and short to medium lines.
- Avoid waiting in line
Long lines are another thing the Texas sales tax holiday has in common with Black Friday. As mentioned in the previous tip, the best time to go is when the store opens especially on Friday. That’s because Friday is still a workday for some. Still, Friday morning most likely has the fewest number of shoppers.
People are more likely to be willing to shop later, but not get up early. Some folks still want to sleep in on the weekends. After Friday, first thing on Saturday and Sunday are your best bet for shorter lines.
If the shopping trip requires trying on clothes, you might do that first. Because not only do you deal with check out lines, but also dressing room lines. So, if you go to the store as soon as it opens, it’s the best time to try on things.
You can skip the lines altogether by shopping online with stores that do business in Texas. They usually follow the sales tax holiday requirements. Another advantage of online shopping is that it makes it easier to compare prices. You can also compare store prices before you go to get the best deals.
- Make a shopping list
It’s all too easy to overspend when going shopping unprepared. No one wants to buy a box of pencils only to find two boxes at home. Before you go, make a list of what you need including clothing and shoe sizes. Kids don’t always cooperate in trying things on to confirm current sizes. Planning will help you catch them at their most cooperative time.
Follow these tips and you’ll have a successful tax-free weekend. If you live in Dripping Springs’s Caliterra community, you have great shopping options in the Hill Country Galleria and Target. Moreover, it may be less crowded than stores in Austin or San Marcos, the outlet shopper’s paradise. Nonetheless, if you’d like to go to Austin, it’s only a 30-minute drive.