Sales tax-free details, benefits outlined for Orange County back-to-school shoppers

Published 12:28 am Tuesday, July 26, 2022

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Bolstered by higher energy and food prices, a historic rise in costs means families are paying more while back-to-school shopping.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of July, inflation stands at 9.1 percent.

Orange shoppers can expect to pay 5.2 percent more than they paid last year for apparel, thanks to a 0.8 percent increase in June.

Recent polling aligns with these figures. A June Pew Research Center survey found most Americans, 75 percent, were very concerned about rising prices for food and consumer goods.

The remainder were only somewhat concerned.

Texas families among those concerned may stretch their dollar next month during a tax holiday.

The Texas Comptroller declared the weekend of Aug. 5-7 to be Tax-Free Weekend.

During this Sales Tax Holiday, there will be no sales tax owed on the purchase of items sold for less than $100. A total purchase may be more than $100, individual items will be tax free if each is sold for less than $100.

Parents like Ashley Tassin-Lichenstein of Orange are concerned about higher prices in retail stores and are interested in opportunities to save money.

“I’m looking at upwards of $300 for everything,” she said.

To complete her school shopping before school begins, she plans to shop during tax free weekend.

“I try to do some shopping during tax free weekend, but I have five kids needing school supplies this year, so I’ve been buying a little at a time,” she said. “I usually buy what I can and then get the rest in tax free weekend.”

The list of goods exempt from sales tax includes apparel, footwear, school supplies, cloth and disposable face masks, backpacks, infant and adult diapers and more.

Items like medical grade N95 face masks, athletic gear and computers are not included in the list.

An explainer of qualifying and non-qualifying items is found on the website of the Texas Comptroller.

Jay Trahan, Director of Economic Development for the City of Orange, encourages Orange shoppers to consider local retailers when preparing for back-to-school shopping.

“The Tax-Free Weekend is a great opportunity for customers to benefit from extra savings, which is 8.25 percent sales tax in the City of Orange,” he said.

“Also, the strategy is always Shop Local and visit local restaurants and other businesses during the weekend, as well.”

According to Trahan, shopping locally has several positive impacts: stimulating the local economy and promoting employee retention.

When shopping online, no sales tax will be owed if the transaction date occurred during Tax-Free Weekend.

— By Shari Hardin