A sure sign students will soon be heading back to school is South Carolina’s annual tax-free weekend.
Each year, beginning on the first Friday of August, the state eliminates all sales and user taxes on dozens of items. This year, the state’s 6 percent sales tax – along with local sales taxes – will be eliminated from 12:01 a.m. Friday through midnight on Sunday.
The state Board of Economic Advisors estimates shoppers this year will save an estimated $2.25 million over the course of the three-day sales tax holiday.
The tax-free weekend helps parents and students save money as they gear up for another school year. But not everything is tax free. Here’s a look at some of the items you can purchase without paying the sales tax – and some items that will still be taxed.
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Computers vs. computer accessories
If you’ve been waiting to buy a laptop or desktop computer, you’ll be in luck this weekend. No sales tax will be charged on your new MacBook, Dell Inspiron or other brands.
However, computer parts are not tax free. So, if you buy just a keyboard, be prepared to pay the sales tax.
To make it a bit more complicated: If a keyboard comes with your new computer, the keyboard is tax free.
Backpacks vs. book bags
Are you planning to buy a backpack for your fall camping trip? Plan to pay the sales tax. If you need a book bag for school, it will be tax free this weekend.
Towels vs. paper towels
Waiting for the weekend to stock up on paper towels won’t allow you to avoid sales taxes. But if you want a beach towel for one last summer weekend on the coast, you’re in luck.
Baseball mitts vs. batting gloves
You can buy your little leaguer a batting glove without paying sales taxes this week. But her baseball mitt? Not tax free.
Adult diapers vs. toilet paper
There’s no sales tax exemption for toilet paper this week. But those who use adult diapers will avoid the tax.
What’s tax-free and what’s not
Sales tax will NOT be charged on these items this weekend:
- Adult diapers
- Aerobic clothing
- Antique clothing
- Athletic or sport uniforms or clothing (but not equipment such as mitts, helmets and pads)
- Baby bibs
- Baby clothes
- Baby diapers, cloth or disposable
- Baby shoes
- Bath mats
- Bath rugs
- Bath towels (all sizes, including beach towels)
- Bath washcloths
- Bathing caps
- Bathing suits
- Bathing trunks
- Beach capes and coats
- Bed comforters and bed comforter sets
- Bed duvets and covers
- Bed linens, including baby bumper pads, canopies, baby crib padding, bed skirts, box spring covers, dust ruffles, mattress pads, mattress toppers, pillow covers, and shams.
- Bed pillowcases
- Bed pillows (e.g. baby pillows, body pillows, husband pillows, throw pillows)
- Bedsheets and bedsheet sets
- Belt buckles
- Blankets such as afghan, baby, electric and throw blankets
- Bobby pins
- Boots, including climbing, hiking, riding, ski, waders, fishing, cowboy
- Bow ties
- Bridal gowns and veils (must be sold; rentals are taxable)
- Capri pants
- Coats, capes and wraps
- Computer hardware service contracts sold in conjunction with computers
- Computer software
- Computer software service contracts sold in conjunction with computer software
- Computer software service contracts when the true object of the contract is to obtain computer software updates during the contract period
Note: The following are examples of devices that are not considered computers for purposes of the sales tax holiday exemption: cellphones, smartphones or any other handheld devices that allow users to make telephone calls; handheld devices that are primarily used to download and listen to music; handheld devices that are primarily used to download and watch videos; and devices that are primarily used to download and read books (e-books). However, portable devices that have computing and media functions, allow users to access the Internet and have a multitude of software applications (or the capability to download a multitude of software applications) are considered computers for purposes of the sales tax holiday exemption, provided such devices do not allow users to make telephone calls.
Note: The sale of a computer monitor, keyboard, or scanner by itself would not be exempt during the sales tax holiday. If a monitor, keyboard or scanner is purchased as part of a package that included the computer processing unit, then that is one transaction to purchase a computer and the sale of the packaged unit (CPU, monitor, keyboard, scanner) is exempt. The sale of a digital music player, digital camera, cellphone or a smartphone, whether or not purchased in conjunction with a computer processing unit (CPU), is not exempt during the sales tax holiday.
- Corset laces
- Costumes (must be sold; rentals are taxable)
- Daily planners or organizers when used by school children as a school supply
- Dress shields
- Elastic ponytail holders
- Fishing boots
- Formal clothing (must be sold; rentals are taxable)
- Garters/garter belts
- Gloves, including those for batting, bicycle, dress, garden, golf, ski, tennis
- Graduation caps and gowns (must be sold; rentals are taxable)
- Gym suits
- Hair bows
- Hair clips
- Hand muffs
- Hunting vests
- Ice skates (rentals are taxable)
- In-line skates (rentals are taxable)
- Jogging suits
- Leg warmers
- Leotards and tights
- Personal Digital Assistants or PDAs (PDAs are hand-held computers used as daily planners. Please note that the exemption does not apply to cellphones with a PDA, computer applications or similar components.)
- Pillow cases
- Pillows (all types)
- Printer supplies (replaceable ink cartridges used in printers are exempt from tax as “printer supplies”)
- Printers, but replacement parts are taxable
- Prom dress (must be sold; rentals are taxable)
- Riding pants
- Roller skates, provided the skates are permanently attached to the boots.
- School supplies, including, but not limited to, pens, pencils, paper, binders, notebooks, books, blue books, bookbags, lunchboxes, musical instruments (but only if the musical instrument is used in the classroom or at home in relation to school assignments).
Note: Items such as refrigerators, toiletries, bicycles and food purchased by college students are not school supplies and not exempt from the tax.
- School uniforms
- Scout uniforms
- Shawls and wraps
- Shoes, including ballet, baseball, bicycle, boat, boots, bowling (taxed if rented), cleated, cross trainers, flip-flops, football, golf, jazz/dance, soccer, track, in-line skates, ice skates, running, etc.) (rentals are taxable)
- Shoulder pads for dresses, jackets, etc. (but not athletic or sport protective pads)
- Shower curtains and liners (shower curtain hooks and rings and shower curtain rods are taxable)
- Ski boots (snow) (rentals are taxable)
- Ski masks
- Ski suits (snow)
- Skin diving suits
- Sport clothing and uniforms, but not equipment such as mitts, helmets, and pads
- Sport jacket
- Support hosiery
- Sweat suits
- Towels of all types and sizes, including bath, beach, kitchen, and sport towels; paper towels are taxable
- Tuxedo (must be sold; rentals are taxable)
- Wet and dry suits
Sales tax will be charged on these items this weekend:
- Any clothing or footwear that is rented
- Any item (whether sold or leased) used in a trade or business
- Any item placed on layaway or similar deferred payment and delivery plan
- Backpacks for hiking and camping (bookbags for school are exempt)
- Bathroom accessories or supplies, including soap, shower curtain hooks and rings, shower curtain rods, toothbrush holders, towel holders, tissue box covers, toilet paper, wastebaskets
- Box springs
- Change purse
- Clocks, including alarm clocks and wall clocks
- Clothing that is rented
- Computer parts
- Costume rentals
- Daily planners or organizers when not used by school children as a school supply
- Digital cameras
- Digital music players
- Employee uniforms
- Footwear that is rented
- Formal clothing that is rented
- Gift wrapping paper
- Golf clubs
- Greeting cards
- Hardware, including hand tools, power tools, etc.
- Health food supplements
- Helmets, including sport, motorcycle, bicycle, etc.
- Hobby equipment, supplies and toys
- Key cases
- Mitts, including a baseball fielder’s mitt, hockey, etc; however, a batting glove is exempt
- Music players
- Music tapes, records and compact discs
- Paper products that are not school supplies such as greeting cards and gift wrapping paper, etc.
- Paper towels
- Personal flotation devices
- Printer replacement parts
- Protective masks and goggles, including for athletics, sports or work
- Roller skates not permanently attached to the boot
- Safety clothing for use in a trade or business
- Safety glasses and goggles
- Safety shoes for use in a trade or business
- School office and janitorial supplies
- Sewing accessories
- Sheet stretchers
- Shin guards and padding
- Shoulder pads, including those for football and hockey
- Shower curtain hooks and rings
- Shower curtain rods
- Sleeping bags
- Sporting equipment, including baseball mitts, golf clubs, helmets, hockey mitts, life jackets and vests, masks, pads, swim fins, swimming masks and goggles
- Stereo equipment
- Table cloths
- Table placemats and other table supplies such as napkins and napkin holders
- Tissue box covers
- Toilet paper
- Toothbrush holders
- Towel holders
- Watch bands
- Window curtains
- Window treatments such as curtains, drapes, shades, valances