This year the Tennessee tax-free offerings have tripled — not only including the usual back-to-school weekend exemption on clothing, school supplies and computers, but expanding to offer a full week of taxless shopping on food and a whole year of tax-free shopping for gun safes and other gun safety features.
I always look forward to buying clothes and school supplies without having to pay tax, but this year I am particularly excited about the new weeklong exemption of food, since it includes restaurant food, grocery food and even food from caterers.
It would definitely be a good time to load up my freezer and stock up on staples and splurges for my personal pantry, but also a prime time to buy food to donate to a food pantry.
With the state sales tax standing at 7% and with local counties adding as much as 2.75% on top of that, a few glorious days of no-tax shopping is more than welcome. (Local tax is 2.25% in Davidson, Cheatham and Sumner counties and 2.75% in Williamson, Wilson and Rutherford counties.)
To maximize my savings, I am making my shopping list ahead of time, thinking about what my family will need in the next few months, and hoping to couple my tax savings with other enticing back-to-school and promotional offers from retailers.
Most years, this is the weekend when I update my walking/running shoes, since many retailers will price certain higher-end shoes under $100 to make them qualify for the exemption and then I enjoy the tax savings, too.
The Tennessee General Assembly unanimously approved the two extra sales tax holidays in the last session in hopes of providing Tennesseans some tax relief and help them save a little money.
And yes, items sold online are also eligible during all three sales tax holidays.
Here are the highlights:
Clothing, school supplies and computers
This annual tax-free weekend is from 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 30, to 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 1.
The clothing exemption includes general apparel that costs $100 or less per item, such as shoes, shirts, pants, dresses, etc.
The school supply exemption, which is great even if you don’t have school-age kiddos, includes supplies with a purchase price under $100 — items like binders, backpacks, crayons, paper, pens and pencils, as well as art supplies such as glazes, paint, drawing pads and artist paintbrushes.
Also exempt are computers, including laptops, and tablet computers, for personal use, if priced at $1,500 or less. The exemption does not include printer supplies, storage media like flash drives, or household appliances.
Food, food ingredients and prepared food
This holiday, which should help anybody who buys groceries, begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 30, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5. It includes prepared foods by restaurants, food trucks, caterers and grocery stores. There is no limit on food in terms of price.
There was a restaurant-specific sales tax holiday last year, but this is the first time for a tax holiday on food and prepared food.
The Department of Revenue made it clear that alcohol, tobacco, candy and dietary supplements are not included.
Gun safes and safety equipment
This new tax-free offering, which started July 1 and ends June 30, 2022, is designed to promote gun safety. It includes “a locking container or other enclosure equipped with padlock, key lock, combination lock or other locking device that is designed and intended for the secure storage of one or more firearms.” It also includes gun safety devices, including computerized locking devices for guns.