Sales tax holiday starts Friday

Personal computers, accessories included in sales tax-free holiday for first time


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Depending on where your kids are in school or where you're attending college, you have somewhere between seven days and three weeks to pack up a back pack.

One way you can save some money on doing so is to shop starting at midnight. It's time for Florida's tax-free weekend.

The sales tax holiday in Florida has been ongoing since 1998. For the first time, the Florida legislature included personal computers and accessories as school supplies for Florida's kids.

"I've always, since my kids were closer to the ground, I've taken a lot of advantages of tax free weekend I'm very, very grateful for tax free it's a very good thing that our state does and I hope it's something that continues for years to come," said Nicole Harshaw.

Harshaw is a teacher and a parent, so she knows exactly what teachers ask their students to bring to class, and how much that costs for parents.

"The kids need things like composition books for the first day of school. We use a lot of interactive journals, the kids get a chance to really get their information down, thoughts to paper. They need pencils, they need all sorts of colors of pens, highlighters, sticky notes," said Harshaw.

Complete list of tax-exempt items | Sales tax holiday Q and As

A National Retail Federation survey predicts families with school-aged children will spend an average of $634.78 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics this year. That average cost down from $688.62 last year.

If you shop from Friday through Sunday this week in Florida, you won't pay sales taxes on certain clothes priced at $75 or less or school supplies for $15 or less.

There's a notable addition to the list of tax-exempt items this year; computers priced at $750 or less, which includes desktops, laptops, tablets and e-readers.

Several area stores also offer other promotions like Sam's Club, which is usually only open to members, will open it's doors to everyone.

"With the tax-free weekend coming up, we're opening to the general public for them to come in and take advantage of a lot of the savings that we have for buying in bulk. Parents can come in and get everything they need for their kids for the upcoming school year and just kick it all out at one time," said Justin Hearon, member service assistant manager at Sam's Club.

Other retailers are extending their hours for the weekend.  Orange Park Mall will remain open until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 8 p.m. on Sunday.  Best Buy stores are opening at 8 a.m. rather than 10 a.m. this weekend.

Harshaw said finding deals like that can make a world of a difference in your wallet and take your children with you!

"The tax-free weekend is absolutely perfect... Parents have a real chance to get out, buy school clothes, buy school supplies, things that they need... Kids get a chance to get out and understand the essence of budgeting and cost efficient shopping. It's a huge blessing," said Harshaw.

Back to school and college shopping is always a major retail event. The National Retail Federation said Florida retailers brought in anywhere from $280 million and $380 million in sales last year because of the sales tax holiday.

With computers on the list this year, they expect that figure to rise to about $400 million.