Teach your kids a lesson and take advantage of the Florida back-to-school sales tax holiday


It’s hard to believe, but the 2017-2018 school year is just around the corner! For many parents, that means a return to schedules and normalcy, and for most of us, that means having to dust off credit cards for the adventure that is back-to-school shopping. Many states have a sales tax holiday during the back-to-school season to encourage parents to shop and help them pay less for school supplies and clothing. Thankfully, Florida is no exception. Renewable each year, it was approved by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott May 25, 2017. This year’s back-to-school sales tax holiday will take place Aug. 4-6.

The sales tax holiday is really quite a benefit for parents of Florida students, and the best part is it’s simple: there are no forms to fill out and no rebates to cash in. Just shop as one normally might, and qualifying items are sold without the buyer having to pay sales taxes.  Florida’s sales tax holiday allows parents to purchase the following items without paying any state or local sales taxes:

·         Clothing, shoes and certain accessories that cost $60 or less per item

·         School supplies (notebooks, pens, paper, markers, lunch boxes, etc.) that cost $15 or less per item

·         Computers and computer accessories that cost $750 or less per item 

 Computers were not included in the exempt items list in 2016, so this is a welcome addition to the 2017 list. Laptops, tablets and printer ink cartridges also qualify. 

One must be careful, however, because not everything qualifies for the exemption. For example, computers cannot cost more than $750 and cannot be used for commercial use (which shouldn’t be an issue for a student). Also, clothing that costs more than $60 or supplies that cost more than $15 do not qualify. 

Additionally, rentals or leases of items that would be eligible if purchased outright do not qualify. In other words, if you buy a computer, you qualify for the sales tax, but if you lease the same one, your tax will be included in the lease price. 

It is estimated that Floridians will save $33 million in taxes during the three-day sales tax holiday period. The sales tax rate is 7 percent in Duval County and 6.5 percent in St Johns County, so for every $100 a parent spends on school supplies he or she is saving $6-7.  

Since parents pay an average of close to $1,000 per year per child for school supplies and clothing, this can add up to a nice savings. The sales tax savings combined with the deals offered by many retailers give parents even more opportunity to cash in.

The timing of the sales tax holiday is perfect. In St Johns County, students return to school Aug. 10, while the school year in Duval County begins Aug. 14. My advice is not to miss this window. It’s an easy way to save some money and get your kids ready for school, and you’ll teach them a little something about being thrifty.


Wendy Ranson is a tax partner at Pivot CPAs in Ponte Vedra Beach. She has a wide variety of experience in many tax sectors, including corporate income and franchise taxation. For more information on Pivot CPAs, visit https://www.pivotcpas.com/.

Statistics and data in this article come from the Florida Department of Revenue.