Florida's tax-free holiday for school supplies starts at 12:01 a.m. Friday and runs through midnight Sunday. The biggest news this year is that personal computers, tablets and e-readers costing up to $750 are now among the items qualifying for no sales tax.
The three-day tax break approved by the Florida Legislature is primarily for school clothing and accessories costing $75 or less, and school supplies costing $15 or less per item.
The National Retail Federation forecasts that families with school-aged kids will spend $634.78 this year on shoes, clothes and supplies, which is down from $688.62 last year.
Many retailers are planning sales to coordinate with the tax-free weekend and plan to bring in extra staff to handle the anticipated crowds. Some stores are extending hours during the three days. Orange Park Mall will remain open until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 8 p.m. on Sunday. Best Buy stores in Florida will open at 8 a.m. instead of 10 a.m.
Highlights of the Florida tax holiday:
- Personal computers, tablets and accessories such as keyboards and monitors with a price tag of $750 or less. (That doesn't include cellphones, video game consoles, digital media receivers or devices not primarily designed to process data.)
- Apparel: Everything from shirts and shoes with a price tag of $75 or less to backpacks and hats. Even diaper bags are tax-free during the holiday.
- Supplies: Any school supply item priced at $15 or less.
- Online: You also can order online during that period, tax-free, as long as the retailer is set up to process the transactions. Even if the item won't arrive for days, as long as you bought it during the holiday period, it should still be tax free.
- Not tax-free: "Clothing" does not include accessories or equipment such as watches, jewelry, umbrellas, handkerchiefs or sporting gear.
- Adult items not excluded: While the intent of lawmakers was clearly to help family with back-to-school expenses, nothing in the law excludes adult clothing and accessories or computer or tablets purchased by people without children.