Shop tax free this weekend

Published 8:05 pm Thursday, August 6, 2015

By Henry Luzzatto


As the back-to-school rush starts, customers can take advantage of tax-free shopping this weekend.

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However, this year, the tax holiday comes with a twist.

In past years, there were separate sales tax-free weekends for school supplies and clothing, hurricane preparation items and Energy Star and WaterSense products. New legislation from the General Assembly means they are now combined into one weekend.

Customers can purchase qualifying school supplies under $20 and clothing items under $100 without paying sales tax. In addition, people do not have to pay sales tax on hurricane and disaster preparedness supplies like generators, chainsaws and other qualifying items such as batteries, duct tape and flashlights.

Energy Star or WaterSense appliances under $2,500 are also tax exempt.

Tom Townsend, the marketing director for Taylor’s Do-it Center, says he expects the impact on the business to be minimal.

“We’ve never seen a big effect in business when it was just the hurricane holiday,” Townsend said. “It’s hurricane season, but you don’t generally shop ahead of time for a hurricane.”

Townsend said that August is generally a slow month for Taylor’s Do It Center, and the lack of sales tax is not incentive enough for people to prepare for the hurricane season. According to Townsend, the sales tax holiday has never been a big deal for the business.

“It’s a nice little incentive, but it doesn’t create a tremendous amount of foot traffic,” Townsend said. “But who knows? We’ll see.”

According to Sheera Lockwood, the store manager for The School Box in Chesapeake, the sales tax holiday kicks off her store’s busiest season.

“While it is not our biggest weekend, we do typically see a significant increase in customers,” Lockwood said.

The School Box is a school supply store that offers supplies for parents, teachers and students. Lockwood said that the tax-free weekend is important for teachers, who have to purchase their own classroom materials.

According to Lockwood, the new combined holiday will probably not affect business, “though we are expecting a busier weekend than last year’s tax-free weekend,” she said.

Computers and other electronic devices are not included in the list of school supplies exempt from sales tax.

“This is a great opportunity for families as they get ready to send their children back to school, stock up on basic emergency supplies, or simply want to save money now and for years to come by replacing electricity- and water-hogging appliances with energy-efficient models,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe stated in a news release announcing the tax holiday.

Lists of the items that are exempt from sales tax from Aug. 7 to Aug. 9 can be found at