The Arkansas sales tax holiday can be a benefit for back-to-schoolers, but buyers need to shop with care, said Laura Hendrix, associate professor and extension personal finance expert for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
This year's sales tax holiday begins Aug. 7 at 12:01 a.m. and continues through Aug. 8, at 11:59 p.m. State and local sales taxes will not be collected on purchases of certain products. All retailers are required to participate, according to a news release.
The sales tax holiday covers clothing, footwear, school supplies, art supplies and instructional materials. Hendrix said the 2021 sales tax holiday now includes electronic devices such as computers, printers, tablets, e-readers and cellphones.
"Although it may be tax-free, it's still not a bargain if it's not something you will use," Hendrix said. "Continue to use smart shopping strategies during the sales tax holiday."
There are restrictions on these purchases. Clothing must be less than $100 per item, but there is no limit on the number of items.
While most clothing is covered, items such as patterns, fabric and sewing notions are not included. The list of qualified clothing is extensive, covering almost everything from diapers to wedding apparel. Shoes, undergarments, belts and outerwear are included. There is not a cost limit for electronic devices.
TIPS BEFORE SHOPPING
Before heading out for back-to-school shopping, Hendrix recommends:
Take inventory of what you need or want to purchase.
Examine your budget and determine how much to spend.
Have a plan for how you will pay. "Credit card fees and interest can offset any savings you might have from not paying sales tax," Hendrix said. "If using credit cards, have a plan to pay them off as soon as possible."
Make a shopping list.
Set a spending limit.
Find practical financial information at the uaexMoney blog; https://www.uaex.edu/life-skills-wellness/personal-finance/uaex-money-blog/.
To see this year's list of items and restrictions on the tax free holiday, visit https://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/images/uploads/exciseTaxOffice/HolidayItemized.pdf.
To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact a local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.