Sales tax holiday + back-to-school sales = savings

Schools are starting back for fall and this weekend is Georgia’s first sales tax holiday on back-to-school purchases since 2009. Savings are big throughout August on school items, but not having to pay sales taxes makes those savings even sweeter.

Shoppers won’t pay sales tax this Friday and Saturday on a range of back-to-school items: clothing and shoes less than $100 per item, computers and accessories $1,000 or less and school supplies less than $20 per item. Expect to see school supplies marked down to rock-bottom prices at all types of stores, says Coupon Mom Stephanie Nelson, so stock up to take advantage of the slashed prices and save the cost of the sales tax, too.

But savvy shoppers know the savings get even better when you plan ahead.

There are plenty of ads out there, so you can do some comparison shopping at home. Make a list of what you need, and who has the best values, so you’ll also save on gas by not pulling into every store you see. Relax and watch a replay of our recent back-to-school video chat with Jessica Shops’ Jessica Dauler, offering insider tips on where to find the best deals, coolest clothes and this year’s hottest dorm trends.

How do I know what’s free from the state’s sales tax?

Finally, make sure you know ahead of time what items qualify for the sales tax exemption — and you’ll also save yourself embarrassment at the checkout line from thinking an item’s tax-free when it’s not.

And don’t be surprised when you see tax-exempt back-to-school items at all sorts of places — grocery stores, drugstores, discount outlets and office supply stores. Here are some examples from two of the big office supply chains:

Office Depot will be open late Friday evening, with additional savings on school supplies between 9 p.m. and midnight. Sales tax holiday items range from a Crayola Color Disney Book for $3 (regularly $5.99) to an HP dual-core processor laptop for $329.91 (regularly $379.91).

At rival Staples, school deals that run this week through Saturday include a two-pack of 80-sheet mini-composition books for a quarter to 100-sheet, one-subject notebooks for $2.

And it’s not just stores riding the back-to-school bandwagon. Vinings restaurant Big Chow Grill, for instance, is giving away a back-to-school supply pack with the purchase of a kids meal. The offer is valid through Sunday, while supplies last.

What’s your back-to-school shopping strategy?

Planning to do your back-to-school shopping at one place or look around for the best deals? Or do it all online?

What’s the one item you’re really hoping to snag at a super scarfo-bargain price?

Find consumer news and deals throughout the week, from a range of experts, at the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

In print, our Deal Spotter section in Thursday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution is full of great local deals and exclusive offers.

– For the AJC Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

15 comments Add your comment

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August 7th, 2012
9:55 am

Save even more with Pratt Plus! Check out our Back to School Sale – Up to 20% off school supplies for both teachers and students!


August 7th, 2012
2:08 pm

Only in GA do they have the back-to-school tax holiday AFTER school starts.


August 8th, 2012
7:56 am

@Cutty, this weekend works for some people like me, since I just received my pay today. Can’t make everyone happy. Plus we just got this back, so please don’t complain, we could have been without it for another year.


August 8th, 2012
8:27 am



August 8th, 2012
7:56 am

I agree with you 100%. Not to mention that all schools have not gone back yet.


August 8th, 2012
8:49 am

db – but it could have worked for all and not just “some” like you. What use is a tax holiday for school supplies if you’re required to have them for school and it’s already started. —— Darn it, I keep forgetting I’m talking about just another thing that politicians don’t get


August 8th, 2012
9:13 am

db- This may work for you, but not for me. That’s all I’m saying. I guess if you can’t make EVERYONE happy may as well make some of you happy. The state knew full well when all districts would be starting school.

David Hoffman

August 8th, 2012
10:22 am

Does Georgia have a mandatory common simultaneous starting day for K-12 schools?


August 8th, 2012
10:38 am

Does the sales tax waiver include on-line purchase during those two days?


August 8th, 2012
11:05 am

I would think that you could delay buying supplies until you know for sure what you need. Also, don’t forget that these tax holidays are just as needed for people going to college. (Which doesn’t start for a few weeks).

Everybody wants to complain.

[...] the first time since 2009, shoppers can avoid paying sales taxes on their clothes and shoes, computers and their crayons and other supplies. Previously, Georgia had [...]


August 9th, 2012
10:54 am

They could have held it two weeks ago – one person wouldn’t have started school yet, one would have a fresh paycheck and let’s see…our teachers haven’t posted their necessary supplies yet, so actually it does not work for me. Dang!

I should mention that, in addition to the fact that school goes back into session every year, Christmas is going to take place on…December 25th! Wow! An ongoing and yet surprising trend. Just plan to save money each paycheck for school supplies, Christmas, Easter, vacation or whatever you do. This should be no surprise.


August 9th, 2012
11:13 am

Deal I just learned about: Microsoft Store at Lenox is doing 20% off in addition to the tax Holiday. Seems like a great time to get a computer. (

Anyone know of a good place to find all the deals?

frugal mom

August 9th, 2012
1:37 pm

While it may not “work” for those who already started, there is never any harm in stockpiling cheap deals, knowing that as surely as day turns into night, Junior will need some more wide ruled loose leaf paper, or another pair of scissors, or what have you down the road. Try buying duplicates to have enough to set aside for the backpacks done for the less fortunate by churches, this is how I had enough for mine this year without having to go out and actually buy the things. It’s a great feeling knowing you are getting great deal and looking ahead for future needs. Win win situation for the stores, the people and yourself. I am second.


August 9th, 2012
7:48 pm

Even though school has already started you can buy the supplies and save them for later, like next semester. Also, since the list of things you can buy is pretty extensive, you can shop for yourself as well as school age kids. If you can’t find a way to take advantage of the tax holiday, stop complaining and start trying to get creative!