(Courtesy Photo/tax.virginia.gov)

By Deborah Bailey,
AFRO D.C. Editor

August equals Tax Free weeks and weekends across the US. This weekend, Northern Virginia is your destination for tax-free savings.  Virginia’s Tax Free Weekend – or Sales Tax Holiday, officially starts Friday August 5 at 12:01 PM and runs through August 7 at 11:59 pm. 

Virginia’s tax-free bargains are available whether you shop in person, on-line, by mail or phone, as long as you get the job done between the hours listed above, so c’mon everybody, let’s get it! 

According to the Virginia Department of Taxation, here’s the rundown.   

School supplies and clothes

Not ALL school supplies are tax-free (don’t even think about that laptop or smart watch. Yet, there are   many items included in the qualified list below.  

  • School supplies: Items must cost $20 or less per item. Gone are the days to get your laptop or I-Pad tax-free.  But here are some of the many items you can pick up this weekend: Binder pockets, binders, blackboard chalk, Book bags, messenger bags, and totes, Calculators – watch the cost on those,  Cellophane tape, compasses, Composition books, Computer storage media, flash drives, crayons, dictionaries, disinfectant wipes, dividers, erasers  and dry erasers, folders, glue and plastic sticks, hand sanitizer soap, highlighters, index cards and boxes, legal pads, lunch boxes and lunch bags, markers, musical instruments, musical instrument accessories, and replacement, instrument supplies, notebooks, art work paint brushes, paints, including (acrylic, tempera, and oil paints, paper, (loose leaf to printer paper,  poster board, and construction paper, pencil boxes, pencils and sharpeners, pens, protractors, reference books, globes and maps, rulers, scissors, sheet music, sketch and drawing pads, textbooks (look up college students), tissues, workbooks and writing tablets. 
  • Clothing and footwear: Each item must be $100 or less. We’re talking basic school gear – not designer originals. The items can be new or from your friendly second-sale store. Here are examples of qualified items you can save a few tax dollars in in Virginia this weekend:

Aprons, athletic supporters, Baby clothes, diapers, bibs, baby receiving blankets, but NOT diaper bags, 

Bandanas, bathing suits, cover-ups, swim trunks, beach capes and coats, belts, boots, choir and altar clothing, clerical vestments, clothing in general: shirts, blouses, pants, skirts, coveralls, dresses, jeans, shorts, coats, jackets, and windbreakers, corsets and other shapewear, costumes (sold, not rented), coveralls, footies, formal wear for men or women (sold, not rented), fur coats, stoles, shawls, and wraps (tell me where you find this item under $100), gloves and golf clothes, gym suits, uniforms, hats and caps, hosiery, shoe inserts, jeans, lab coats, leg warmers, tights, lingerie, neckwear, pajamas, religious clothing, choir and alter clothing, clerical robes, raincoats and hats,  ponchos,  bras, garter belts, corsets, hosiery, jogging bras, underwear, .rubber pants, shoes including sandals, steel-toed shoes, flip flops, scarves, socks uniforms and wait for it….wedding apparel purchased – not rented. 

Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness Items

With the increase in late summer/early fall severe weather events in the U.S. caused by climate change, Virginia State officials want folks to prepare for the hurricane season. In the northern Virginia, and DC locals, many folks still remember the widespread devastation caused by Hurricane Floyd (1999). Heavy rains in the aftermath of that massive hurricane damaged homes and left communities devastated across the entire DMV region. 

Portable generators – $1,000 or less per item

Gas-powered chainsaws – $350 or less per item

Chainsaw accessories – $60 or less per item

Other specified hurricane preparedness items – $60 or less per item 

Items to make your home more energy efficient. 

Now’s the time to stock up on energy star appliances for the home. Check out the Virginia Sales Tax Holiday Web site for more guidance on the Energy Star or WaterSense products you are interested in purchasing. 

Energy Star™ and WaterSense™​ products 

  • Qualifying Energy Star™ or WaterSense™ products purchased for noncommercial home or personal use – $2,500 or less per item

Not EVEYTHING Is Tax Free in Virginia This weekend: These items are NOT included in Virginia’s Tax Free Weekend

OK, always someone needs it spelled out to the letter. No tax-free holiday bargains on the following items: 

Clothing and Footwear: No tax reduction for  Cosmetics,  Fabric, thread, buttons,  yarn for making clothing, hair accessories including barrettes, bobby pins, ponytail holders, bows, hair nets; handbags (that’s right, no purses ladies), handkerchiefs, jewelry (c’mon really?), breathing   masks,  ear protectors, face shields, hard hats, helmets, paint respirators, safety glasses and goggles, tool belts, welders gloves, no sports or recreational shoes including ballet, tap, bowling, cleats, glovers or goggles for sports. Goggles, elbow pads or mouth guards, ice or roller skates, shoulder, shin or elbow guards, no life vests, ski boots or ice skates, no wetsuits, water gear. 

Wait for it, there’s more. The tax-free holiday does NOT include:  sunglasses, umbrellas, wallets or watches, no hairpieces, no wigs. 

Tax-free holidays are coming up in Maryland in just a few days. Nevertheless, if you need a head start, or if you’ve got lots of kids to shop for, get your list ready and get over to Northern Virginia for this weekend.

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