Parents and teachers: South Carolina's sales tax holiday returns, and that means most back-to-school items are exempt from the state's 6 percent sales tax.
The tax holiday runs from 12:01 a.m. Friday, Aug. 4 until midnight Sunday, Aug. 6.
Shoppers heading to big-box and locally-owned stores can purchase most back-to-school and college items without the added state sales tax and any local applicable taxes.
The South Carolina Department of Revenue said in past years shoppers have saved between $2 million and $3 million during the holiday weekend.
Exempt items include computers, clothing, printers, pencils, pens, paper, bed sheets and blankets. Also included on that list are binders, notebooks, book bags, lunch boxes, calculators, comforter sets, bath rugs and pillow cases.
Musical instruments for school purposes are exempt, too.
Items not exempt from the tax include cosmetics, items on layaway, sales on furniture, eyewear and jewelry.
Need a cellphone? That's not exempt, either.
Cellphones, smartphones or other handheld devices that make telephone calls aren't eligible to be tax exempt. That also includes other handheld devices primarily used to download and listen to music, videos or read books.
However, the Department of Revenue states online portable devices with computing and media functions that allow users Internet access and a variety of software applications are considered computers and are eligible, provided they don't make phone calls.
Richie Pierce and his wife, Beth, run The Fashion Shack in Anderson and also run discount education and office supply store The Education Shack, which has since opened in a new building on E. Main Street in Easley.
The sales tax holiday is one of the biggest business weekends for the store, Pierce said.
"People are always looking for bigger discounts," he said. "It's still a good weekend, partly because of the sales tax holiday and partly because of the time of year. It's definitely one of our best weekends of the year."
A spokesperson with Staples said during South Carolina's tax-free weekend, shoppers can save an added 10 percent in store just by mentioning the tax-free weekend at checkout.
This year, meanwhile, could also mean a boost in sales for stores like The Education Shack, Target and Staples because neighboring state Georgia is without a tax-free weekend this year.
The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported in June that Georgia lawmakers failed to pass legislation to provide for tax holidays this year. Without the tax-free weekends, lawmakers say it'll save the state money.
"Some of our better customers have come from Georgia," said Pierce, who hadn't yet heard Georgia was without a tax-free weekend this year. "We had, one time, a school over in Georgia bring a busload of teachers and they spent the better part of the day picking stuff out. I hope that means more business."
Schools start back Aug. 22, not Aug. 21 given the the total solar eclipse that will occur on that day.
For more on South Carolina's tax-free weekend, visit dor.sc.gov/taxfreeweekend.
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