The price is right for back to school. What can you really save on tax-free week?

·4 min read

For 10 days, back-to-school-focused students, moms, dads and guardians might feel they’ve stepped onto the set of “The Price Is Right” every time they pop into a Target, Walmart, Best Buy or Apple Store.

That’s because an expanded back-to-school tax-free holiday week starts Saturday, July 31 and runs through Monday, Aug. 9.

You won’t have a smiling and helpful “Price Is Right” host Drew Carey to help you make your choices in the aisles. So let us help.

What qualifies for the sales tax break?

Need a break on back-to-school shopping? What to know about a tax holiday starting soon

First, note the tax-free holiday savings apply to items including clothes and school supplies.

This includes the taxes off the first $1,000 of the sales price of a computer.

Clothing, which includes footwear but not jewelry, has to have a sales price of $60 or less per item. The tax-free offer also applies to wallets, bags, backpacks — but not briefcases, suitcases or garment bags — also having a sales price of $60 or less per item.

School supplies, on things like pens, pencils and notebooks, priced at $15 or less per item qualify.

Yes, you can buy online and enjoy the savings on qualifying items so long as the order is accepted by the company you’re ordering from during the sales-tax holiday period for immediate shipment. Delivery can be made after the sales-tax holiday period without affecting your sales tax break.

What will you pay?

Let’s play a round of “The Price Is Right” to help give you an idea how this works.

There are four tables before you, the host and “Price Is Right” model tells you. You can buy from any one or a combination of items on the tables — but one of the tables won’t give you a tax savings because the item doesn’t qualify.

On Table One you find 10 2-Pocket Plastic Folder with Prongs for sale at 50 cents apiece from Target.

On Table Two, a brand new Blue 24‑inch iMac with Apple M1 chip priced at $1,299.

On Table Three, a Wonder Nation Girls Denim Jean Jacket, Sizes 4-18 and Plus for $18.98.

On Table Four, a new Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, starting at $1,099.

You can buy anything you want from any of these tables, but if you only go for Table Four and that eye-catching iPhone, forget it. Pay in full — which, at 6% sales tax of $65.94, will set you back 1,164.94. Cellphones are exempt from the tax-free holiday break.

Sales tax in Florida is 6% (except for some services and items listed by the Florida Department of Revenue but none that apply here so we will use the 6% figure).

Let’s say you have decided to buy all 10 pocket folders, which would regularly ring up $5.30 at the cash register given a sales tax of 30 cents. Total price for this tax holiday: $5.

You like that iMac but it’s over $1,000. But you gotta have it. That $1,299 price tag regularly rings up $1,376.94 at the cash register given a 6% sales tax amount of $77.94.

But the tax holiday is going to exclude tax on the first $1,000 of that computer, leaving a taxable figure of $299. That amounts to $17.94.

So you pay $1,299 plus $17.94 (rather than $77.94) for a total of $1,316.94. You save $60 for that iMac.

Mara wants that denim jean jacket with a price tag of $18.98. She’d normally pay $2.28 in tax for a cash register receipt of $21.26. This tax holiday, pay the $18.98.

Buy everything as described above, including the smartphone for which you did not save on the tax, and you’ve paid a total of $2,439.92. On these items, together, for the 10-day tax holiday period, you’ve saved $62.58.

Did you win at “The Price is Right”?

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