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Tennessee and 15 Other States Go Ahead With Tax Free Weekend

Updated: Sep 4, 2020

As school boards, city, and county officials struggle with when/if the children should return to school amid the pandemic, 16 states, including Tennessee have decided to go forward with their traditional back to school sales tax holiday.

The rules vary from state to state, but the sales tax holiday temporarily exempts items like clothing, shoes, notebooks and other school supplies, sometimes including computers, from state, and often local, sales taxes.

Shoppers can save significant amounts of money during these tax freezes. In Tennessee for instance, some counties have rates of up to 9.75 percent. A handful of states have taken it even further and included waivers for items that aid in disaster preparedness either during the tax free weekend or other periods during the year.

Surprisingly one state, Tennessee, even expanded their program to include an additional sales tax holiday weekend to include restaurant spending to help boost the economy during the coronavirus.

In Tennessee, the first tax-free holiday weekend focuses on clothing and other back-to-school items. It begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 31 and ends Sunday, August 2 at 11:59 p.m. During this time, clothing, school supplies, and computers and other qualifying electronic devices may be purchased tax-free.

Exempt items sold online are also eligible. Items must be purchased for personal use, not for business or trade.

The specific details of Tennessee's sales tax holiday are as follows:


  • Exempt: 

    • General apparel that costs $200 or less per item, such as shirts, pants, socks, shoes, dresses, etc.

  • Not exempt:

    • Apparel items priced at more than $200

    • Items sold together, such as shoes, cannot be split up to stay beneath the $200 maximum

    • Items such as jewelry, handbags, or sports and recreational equipment

School Supplies

  • Exempt:

    • School and art supplies with a purchase price of $200 or less per item, such as binders, books, backpacks, crayons, paper, pens, pencils, and rulers, and art supplies such as glazes, clay, paints, drawing pads, and artist paintbrushes

  • Not exempt:

    • School and art supplies individually priced at more than $200

    • Items that are normally sold together cannot be split up to stay beneath the $200 maximum

Computers & Other Electronics

  • Exempt:

    • Computers for personal use with a purchase price of $3,000 or less

    • Tablets, smart phones and electronic readers with a purchase price of $3,000 or less

    • Televisions and video game consoles with a purchase price of $3,000 or less

  • Not exempt: 

    • Storage media, like flash drives and compact discs

    • Individually purchased software

    • Printer supplies

    • Household appliances

The second tax-free holiday weekend in Tennessee focuses on restaurant sales. It begins at 12:01 a.m. on August 7 and ends Sunday, August 9 at 11:59 p.m.

During this time, the retail sale of food and drink by restaurants and limited service restaurants, as defined in Tenn. Code Ann. § 57-4-102, is exempt from sales tax. This does include carry out.

Here is a full list of the 16 states that are offering sales tax holidays, check each state's specific rules and qualifications here:

  • Alabama

  • Arkansas

  • Connecticut

  • Florida

  • Iowa

  • Maryland

  • Massachusetts

  • Mississippi

  • Missouri

  • New Mexico

  • Ohio

  • Oklahoma

  • South Carolina

  • Tennessee

  • Texas

  • Virginia

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