Back-to-school sales tax holiday runs Aug. 2-6

Florida’s back-to-school sales tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Aug. 2, and continues through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6.

Florida’s back-to-school sales tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Aug. 2, and continues through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6.

During the holiday, Florida law says no sales tax or local option tax (also known as discretionary sales surtax) can be collected on purchases of certain school supplies selling for $15 or less per item; clothing, footwear and certain accessories selling for $60 or less per item; and computers and certain accessories selling for $1,000 or less per item, when purchased for noncommercial or personal use.

The holiday comes just in time to get ready for school. Pinellas County Schools’ first day of classes is Wednesday, Aug. 14. Fall classes at St. Petersburg College begin Monday, Aug. 19, and classes start Monday, Aug. 26 at the University of South Florida.

Clothing and accessories

During the holiday, no tax will be collected on the purchase of any article of clothing, wallet or bag, including handbags, backpacks, fanny packs, and diaper bags, but excluding briefcases, suitcases and other garment bags, with a selling price of $60 or less per item. (The list is not all-inclusive.)

The state Department of Revenue defines clothing to mean any article of wearing apparel, including all footwear (except skis, swim fins, roller blades, and skates) intended to be worn on or about the body. Clothing does not include watches, watchbands, jewelry, umbrellas or handkerchiefs.

School supplies

No tax will be collected on the sale or purchase of any school supply item with a selling price of $15 or less per item.

The state says school supplies include pens, pencils, erasers, crayons, notebooks, notebook filler paper, legal pads, binders, lunch boxes, construction paper, markers, folders, poster board, composition books, poster paper, scissors, cellophane tape, glue, paste, rulers, computer disks, staplers and staples (used to secure paper products), protractors, compasses, and calculators.

Items that are not considered school supplies and will be taxed include such things as computer paper, printer paper, masking tape, and correction tape, fluid or pens.

Computers and computer-related accessories

Personal computers and certain computer-related accessories may qualify for the exemption if the purchase price is $1,000 or less per item and purchased for noncommercial home or personal use. According to the Department of Revenue, personal computers include electronic book readers, laptops, desktops, handhelds, tablets and tower computers. The term does not include cellular telephones, video game consoles, digital media receivers, or devices that are not primarily designed to process data.

Personal computer-related accessories include keyboards, mouse devices, personal digital assistants, monitors, other peripheral devices, modems, routers and non-recreational software, regardless of whether the accessories are used in association with a personal computer base unit. Computer-related accessories do not include furniture or systems, devices, software or peripherals that are designed or intended primarily for recreational use. The term monitor does not include a device that includes a television tuner.

The details

It is important to note that when items cost more than the limit, for example, $1,000 on personal computers, tax will be collected on the entire selling price.

Tax also will be charged on rentals or leases of eligible items and on repairs or alternations of eligible items. In addition, tax will be collected if eligible items are purchased in a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishing or airport.

There is no limit on the number of sales-exempt items that can be purchased, as long as each is equal to or less than the allowed sales price. For example, customers can buy as many clothing items as they want as long as each costs $60 or less.

For a complete list of eligible and ineligible items, visit https://revenuelaw.floridarevenue.com/LawLibraryDocuments/2019/06/TIP-122444_TIP_19A01-03_FINAL_RLL.pdf.

Use of coupons

According to the Department of Revenue, store discount coupons that reduce the sales price of an eligible item below the threshold, for example, $15 for school supplies, would result in a tax savings.

Use of manufacturer’s coupons or rebates does not reduce the price the seller would receive for the item and thus would not affect the tax status. In other words, while a buyer using a manufacturer’s coupon may pay less than the threshold, say $60 for a dress, the seller would receive the full $60 by combining the amount the buyer paid and the reimbursement from the manufacturer.

Rain checks and gift cards

If a shopper receives a rain check for an eligible item, but returns to the store to purchase the item after the sales tax holiday is over, tax will be charged. If a gift card is purchased during the holiday, but then used to make a purchase when the holiday is over, tax will be charged.

Layaway

Items placed on layaway during the sales tax holiday are eligible for the sales exemption even if the final payment and delivery of the item is after the holiday is over. The customer pays a deposit and signs an agreement to pay the balance over time, thus constituting a sale.

Mail order, catalog, or Internet sales

All mail order, catalog, or Internet sales of eligible items are tax exempt when the order is accepted during the holiday period for immediate shipment, even if delivery is made after the holiday period.

However, it gets a little tricky when considering shipping charges. The Department of Revenue says shipping charges are part of the sales price and must be included in the total price of each item.

For example, a customer orders a jacket that costs $60 and a dress that is $36. When the cost of shipping is added, the price of the jacket goes above the threshold of $60 allowed for clothing and is no longer eligible for the tax exemption. The dress stays below the threshold. The customer would then be charged tax on the jacket, but not the dress.

For more information, visit floridarevenue.com/backtoschool/Pages/default.aspx.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.