SCHOOL SUPPLIES: The cost of a free education

Tennessee’s annual sales tax holiday will begin this Friday, July 30 at 12:01 a.m. and run through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 1.

During this time, parents can purchase clothing, school supplies and computers for their children to take to school. Certain restrictions apply, but online sales of these items will also qualify for the holiday.

According to the Tennessee Department of Revenue, general apparel that costs $100 or less per item, such as shirts, pants, socks, shoes and dresses, all qualify for tax-free purchases during the holiday. Clothing items priced at more than $100 per item are not included in the tax-free sales. Additionally, items cannot be split up in order to remain under the $100 threshold, such as pairs of shoes. Jewelry, handbags and sports recreational equipment are also not included in the tax-free purchases during the weekend.

On the school supplies front, parents can purchase school and art supplies that also fall at or under $100 per item, including binders, backpacks, crayons, paper, pens, pencils and rulers; art supplies such as glazes, clay, paints, drawing pads and artist paintbrushes at or under the $100 price point also qualify for tax-exempt purchases. The same restrictions as clothing apply to the school supplies: nothing priced at more than $100 per item, nor items that must be split up to stay under the price point qualify.

Computers for personal use at or under $1,500, including laptops and tablet devices, are all exempt under the sales tax holiday rules. Items not included in the sales tax holiday include storage media like flash drives and compact discs, individually purchased software, printer supplies and household appliances.


Concurrent tax holidays


In addition to the annual back-to-school spending holiday, the state of Tennessee will also have a food sales tax holiday that begins at the same time.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 30, food, food ingredients and prepared foods will be exempt from state sales tax, including the qualified sales of prepared food by restaurants, food trucks, caterers and grocery stores. This sales tax holiday will continue until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, exceeding the school sales tax holiday by four days.

“Food and food ingredients are defined as liquid, concentrated, solid, frozen, dried or dehydrated substances that are sold to be ingested or chewed by humans and are consumed for their taste or nutritional value,” the state department of revenue said. “Food and food ingredients do not include alcoholic beverages, tobacco, candy, dietary supplements or prepared food.”

Per the revenue department, food items qualify as prepared food if they are sold in a heated state or heated by the seller; contain two or more food ingredients mixed together by the seller for sale as a single item; or are sold with eating utensils, such as plates, knives, forks, spoons, glasses, cups, napkins or straws provided by the vendor.

“Prepared food does not include food that is only cut, repackaged or pasteurized by the seller, and eggs, fish, meat, poultry and foods containing these raw animal foods requiring cooking by the consumer as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration to prevent food borne illnesses,” the department said.

Another sales tax holiday that began at the beginning of the month includes the sale and purchase of firearm safety items.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. July 1, the state began a sales tax holiday for gun safes and safety devices that will continue into the next year.

Included items are gun safes and gun safety devices. A gun safe is defined by the state as “a locking container or other enclosure equipped with a padlock, key lock, combination lock or other locking device that is designed and intended for the secure storage of one or more firearms.” A gun safety device is defined as “any integral device to be equipped or installed on a firearm that permits the user to program the firearm to operate only for specified persons designated by the used through computerized locking devices or other means integral to and permanently part of the firearm.”

The gun safe and safety device sales tax holiday will continue until 11:59 p.m. on June 30, 2022.

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