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BBB ON HOMES Take advantage of annual Sales Tax Holiday Aug. 10-12

August 5, 2018

With the start of August, the annual Sales Tax Holiday/Tax-Free Weekend is here. In anticipation of back-to-school shopping, this is a time when Texas shoppers will get a break from state and local sales taxes on certain items.

This year’s holiday will occur on Aug. 10-12. As in previous years, the law exempts most clothing, footwear and school supplies priced under $100. The holiday does not apply to household goods, furniture, electronics or vehicles.

A word of caution: businesses that do not qualify for the exemption may not advertise or promise they will pay a customer’s sales tax. Additionally, retailers are prohibited from advertising that they will not collect sales tax on items that do not qualify. They may advertise that tax is included in the sales price of the taxable items sold; however, the disclosure must be precise and clearly visible in the advertisement.

For a full list of all of items that qualify for the Sales Tax Holiday, visit the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts’ website at www.TexasTaxHoliday.com.

The Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas also suggests following a few tips before navigating through the three-day shopping extravaganza:

Take time to research the business, and any possible discounts, in advance. For many families, the annual event can really help during back-to-school shopping since many stores offer discounts on top of the tax break. Being prepared is key to making the most out of your back-to-school dollars.

Check BBBHouston.org to review the business’ history in responding to consumer complaints and also compare discounts at various retailers before you start shopping for maximum savings.

“Back-to-School Sale” doesn’t automatically mean tax free. Retail stores may advertise back-to-school sales because they know consumers are buying items for the upcoming school year. Items will still have taxes applied to them unless the item appears on the state comptroller’s tax-free list.

Take inventory. Before hitting the stores, take inventory of items you already have. You may have leftover supplies from the previous school year. Look around the house for reusable items such as backpacks, lunchboxes, calculators and rulers.

Set a budget. Decide how much you are willing to spend per person a few days in advance. After taking inventory, create a shopping list and stick to it. This will help you stick to your budget, avoid costly impulse purchases and ensure nothing is forgotten.

Know the school’s guidelines. Schools will often provide parents with a list of required items for the school year which can help determine what you need to purchase.

These lists are also available at many retail stores and on school websites. Additionally, many schools have specific dress codes, so keep these restrictions in mind before spending money on clothes the school may not allow.

Check for refund and exchange policies. Be sure you can exchange or return items purchased during this time period. Some items may be non-refundable or have restocking fees associated with a return.

The Better Business Bureau is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Visit www.bbbhouston.org or call 713-868-9500. Leah Napoliello is senior director of Investigative Services with the BBB of Greater Houston and South Texas. Send questions to Leah Napoliello, Better Business Bureau, 1333 West Loop South, Suite 1200, Houston, TX 77027, or e-mail lnapoliello@bbbhou.org. Include your mailing address and phone number.

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