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Coming this weekend: Annual back-to-school sales tax holiday

BTS shoppingThe unofficial start to the back-to-school shopping season will kick off at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 7 and run through midnight on Sunday, Aug. 9.

Shoppers can take advantage of the exemption from Missouri state sales tax in the amount of 4.225 percent for qualifying items purchased during this weekend. Local sales tax also is exempt in those jurisdictions that have opted to participate in the holiday.

The sales tax exemption is only applicable to items meeting the specific descriptions and the maximum dollar values set forth in the authorizing law. The following list of definitions is a handy reference to help make the most of the sales tax holiday:

• Clothing items, including footwear, having a taxable value of $100 or less. Fabric used to make school uniforms and other school wearing apparel also is included.  Excluded from this definition are watches, watchbands, jewelry, handbags, handkerchiefs, umbrellas, scarves, ties, headbands and belt buckles.

• School supplies used by students for educational purposes in a standard classroom not to exceed $50 per purchase. Covered items include textbooks, notebooks, paper, writing instruments, crayons, art supplies, rulers, book bags, backpacks, handheld calculators, chalk, maps and globes. Computer software having a taxable value of $350 or less also falls within this definition. Items not included in this definition are watches, radios, CD players, headphones, sporting equipment, portable or desktop telephones, copiers or other office equipment, furniture and fixtures.

• Personal computers, not to exceed $3,500, and computer peripheral devices, not to exceed $3,500, also qualify for the exemption. The law defines personal computers very broadly to include a laptop, desktop, or tower computer system which consists of a central processing unit, random access memory, a storage drive, a display monitor, and a keyboard and devices designed for use in conjunction with a personal computer, such as a disk drive, memory module, compact disk drive, daughterboard, digitalizer, microphone, modem, motherboard, mouse, multimedia speaker, printer, scanner, single-user hardware, single-user operating system, soundcard and video card.

The law allows cities to opt out of the sales tax holiday. In St. Charles County, the city of St. Peters has opted out of the sales tax holiday. Both St. Louis and St. Charles counties are joining in the holiday this year so shoppers will not have to pay county tax on qualifying items purchased in these areas.  Several West County cities also  have chosen not to participate. Purchases made in the cities of Des Peres, Ellisville, Manchester, Town & Country, Brentwood and Fenton will be subject to the local sales tax amounts.

 

BACK TO SCHOOL: Shopping by the numbers

Heading back to school can be an expensive proposition for students and their families. According to the National Retail Federation spending in preparation for school is second only to the winter holiday shopping season. The average family with children grades K-12 will spend less this year, $630 down from $670 last year.

This year these shoppers will spend on average:

• $218 on clothes

• $197 on electronics

• $118 on shoes

• $98 on school supplies

According to shoppers surveyed:

• 19.6 percent will shop a month or two before school starts.

• 42.8 percent will shop three to four weeks before school begins.

• 30.3 percent will shop a week or two before school starts.

• 35.6 percent will shop online.

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