Frequently Asked Questions - Back to School Sales Tax Holiday


What and when is the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday?

Section 144.049, RSMo, establishes a Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday during a three- day period beginning at 12:01 a.m. on the first Friday in August and ending at midnight on the following Sunday. Purchases of clothing, school supplies, computers, and certain other items defined by the statute are exempt from sales tax for this time period only. Only purchases for personal use qualify.

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What items qualify for the sales tax holiday?

The statute exempts and specifically defines clothing, personal computers, and school supplies as follows:

  1. “Clothing” - any article of wearing apparel, including footwear, intended to be worn on or about the human body. The term shall include but not be limited to cloth and other material used to make school uniforms or other school clothing. Items normally sold in pairs shall not be separated to qualify for the exemption. The term shall not include watches, watchbands, jewelry, handbags, handkerchiefs, umbrellas, scarves, ties, headbands, or belt buckles.
  2. “Personal computers” - a laptop, desktop, or tower computer system which consists of a central processing unit, random access memory, a storage drive, a display monitor, 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, or video card.
  3. “School supplies” - any item normally used by students in a standard classroom for educational purposes, including but not limited to, textbooks, notebooks, paper, writing instruments, crayons, art supplies, rulers, book bags, back packs, handheld calculators, chalk, maps, and globes. The term shall not include watches, radios, CD players, headphones, sporting equipment, portable or desktop telephones, copiers or other office equipment, furniture, or fixtures. School supplies shall also include computer software having a taxable value of three hundred fifty dollars or less.

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What items normally qualify as school supplies for the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday?

  • Art supplies
  • Art razor knives (and replacement blades)
  • Backpacks
  • Binder clips
  • Blank computer disks
  • Book bags
  • Card stock
  • Chalk
  • Crayons
  • Dry erase markers
  • File folders
  • Globes
  • Glue
  • Handheld calculators
  • Index divider tabs
  • Index dividers
  • Inkjet refills
  • Journals
  • Lunch boxes
  • Magnetic note pads
  • Maps
  • Mini pocket packs with paper
  • Musical instruments
  • Note cards
  • Notebooks
  • Padlocks
  • Paper
  • Poster mounting putty
  • Punches and stencils
  • Push pins
  • Rubber bands
  • Rulers
  • Scissors
  • Staplers
  • Staples
  • Tape
  • Textbooks
  • Thumbtacks
  • USB flash drives
  • Writing instruments
  • Writing tablets

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What items normally qualify as computers and computer peripheral devices for the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday?

  • Desktop computers
  • Laptop computers
  • Tower computer systems
  • Compact disk drives
  • Daughterboards
  • Digitizers
  • Disk drives
  • Display monitors
  • Keyboards
  • Memory modules
  • Microphones
  • Modems
  • Motherboards
  • Mouse
  • Multimedia speakers
  • Printers that must be connected to a computer
  • Random access memory
  • Scanners
  • Single user hardware
  • Single user operating systems
  • Soundcards
  • Storage drives
  • Tablet computers or iPads
  • Video cards

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What items normally qualify as clothing for the Back-To-School sales tax holiday?

  • Belts
  • Belts with buckles
  • Cloth and other materials for making uniforms and other clothing
  • Coats
  • Diapers (cloth and disposable)
  • Dresses
  • Gloves
  • Hats or caps
  • House coats
  • House slippers
  • Jackets
  • Leggings
  • Pants
  • Shirts
  • Shorts
  • Shoelaces
  • Shoes or boots
  • Socks
  • Tights
  • Undergarments

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What items normally do NOT qualify for the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday?

  • Adding machine tape
  • Batteries
  • Belt buckles
  • Blackboards
  • Briefcases
  • Bulletin boards
  • CD players
  • Copiers
  • Desktop telephones
  • Digital cameras
  • Envelopes
  • Facial tissues
  • Film
  • Film processing
  • Furniture or fixtures
  • Handbags
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Headbands
  • Headphones
  • Halloween costumes
  • Hand held media devices or iPods
  • Jewelry
  • Keepsake boxes with paper
  • Locker mirrors
  • Mailing tapes
  • MP3 players
  • MP3 player accessories
  • Non-digital cameras
  • Paper trimmer and blade refills
  • Portable telephones
  • Power strips
  • Pre-recorded compact discs and DVDs
  • Radios
  • Scarves
  • Single use cameras
  • Sporting equipment
  • Stand-alone printers
  • Storage bags
  • Table cloth
  • Thank You notes
  • Ties
  • Umbrellas
  • VHS tapes
  • Watches
  • Watchbands

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Are there price limits on the qualifying items during the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday?

Yes. An article of clothing cannot exceed a taxable value of one hundred dollars. School supplies are not to exceed fifty dollars per purchase. Computer software cannot exceed a taxable value of three hundred fifty dollars, and personal computers or computer peripheral devices cannot exceed three thousand five hundred dollars.

For example, during the sales tax holiday a customer purchases a pair of jeans that costs $98 and a sweater that costs $114. The jeans qualify for the holiday exemption. But tax is due on the full cost of the sweater because it has a taxable value that exceeds the $100 limit for each article of clothing.

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Does local tax apply to the sale of qualifying sales tax holiday items during the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday?

The Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday statute allows cities, counties and special tax districts to choose whether they will participate in the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday. If a political subdivision is not presently participating in the holiday and wishes to participate, or vice-versa, it must enact an ordinance and provide that ordinance to the Department of Revenue not less than forty-five days prior to the beginning date of the next sales tax holiday.

For a list of cities, counties and districts that are not participating in this year's Back to School Sales Tax Holiday, click here.

For a complete list of Back to School Sales Tax Holiday rates, click here.

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I am a teacher and I usually buy supplies for my classroom with my own money. Does that qualify as personal use?

Yes, the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday exemption applies to these purchases if you are using your own funds.

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What if I do not sell any of the qualified items for the sales tax holiday?

If you do not sell any of the qualified items, you will collect and remit sales tax as usual.

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How do I collect and report the tax if one or more of the local jurisdictions in which my business resides chooses not to participate in the Back-To-School sales tax holiday?

You will collect the tax, as usual, of those local jurisdictions that choose not to participate in the sales tax holiday. You will not collect state sales tax or tax of participating jurisdictions on the sale of holiday related items. You should report holiday sales on a separate line for each business location.

For example a city with a 2% city sales tax chooses not to participate in the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday. The county in which the city is located has a .5% county sales tax and chooses to participate in the holiday. A customer purchases a computer costing $3,000 during the holiday in a store located in the city. The computer is exempt from the state tax rate of 4.225% and the local county tax rate of .5% but is subject to the local city rate of 2%. The customer pays $60 ($3,000 X 2%) in city sales tax on the sale of the computer.

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Can I use normal pre-printed voucher to file my sales tax that I collected during the Back-To-School sales tax holiday?

You may use your pre-printed voucher if your city, county, and taxing district are all participating in the sales tax holiday. Report sales of holiday related items as a negative adjustment on your business location. If your city, county or district chooses not to participate, the sale of qualifying items is collected and reported at a different rate. This requires you to report sales tax holiday sales on a different line from your regular location. If this is the case, the Department will send you a sales tax return that you should use to report all your sales tax for the August or third quarter period, depending on your filing frequency. You can still use your voucher for all other tax periods in the calendar year.

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What if I have not received a Back-To-School sales tax holiday return in the mail?

If you have not received a sales tax holiday return, you can download a blank sales tax return (Form 53-1).

*If you are within a local jurisdiction that is not participating in the holiday (partial exemption, state only), sales of holiday related items are reported on a separate line from all other sales and indicated with “ back-to-school sales” or the code SH02 in the business location column on your return.

*If your local jurisdiction is participating (fully exempt, state and local), your holiday sales will be recorded as a negative adjustment on the return as an exempt sale.

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I only sell a few items that would be considered school supplies. Do I have to reprogram all of my cash registers for the lower tax rate?

No. If less than two percent of your merchandise offered qualifies for the back-to-school sales tax holiday rate you do not have to participate in the holiday. However, you must provide a refund of the applicable tax to customers on their purchases of qualifying back-to-school sales tax holiday items.

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May I purchase a new computer tax-exempt during the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday for my business?

No, the sales tax holiday is for purchases of qualifying items for personal use only.

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If I do not live in Missouri can I purchase items exempt during the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday?

You do not need to be a Missouri resident to purchase items tax-exempt during the holiday.

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Do items purchased over the Internet qualify for a Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday Exemption?

Yes, if the purchase of the qualifying item occurs during the sales tax holiday and the transaction is completed during the holiday. Delivery can occur after the holiday if the purchaser pays in full during the sales tax holiday.

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Do the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday thresholds include shipping and handling charges?

The sales tax holiday thresholds include mandatory shipping and handling charges as a part of the total purchase price of holiday related items.

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Does the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday include layaway items?

Eligible items that are placed on layaway during the sales tax holiday periods for which final payment does not occur until after the holiday do not qualify for the exemption. However, eligible items that were placed on layaway prior to the holiday when final payment occurs during the holiday period do qualify for the exemption.

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Do rain check items qualify for the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday?

Rain checks issued for eligible items during the sales tax holidays qualify for the exemption only if the items are ordered and paid for during the holiday period. Items do not have to be picked up during the holiday period in order to qualify for the exemption.

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Do items ordered but not delivered until after the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday qualify?

Yes, items ordered but not delivered until after the holiday qualify for the exemption if the purchase of the qualifying item occurs during the sales tax holiday and the transaction is completed during the holiday. Delivery can occur after the holiday if the purchaser pays in full during the sales tax holiday.

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Do purchased items during the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday and later exchanged qualify?

If a customer purchases an eligible item during a sales tax holiday, but later exchanges the item for another eligible item of equal or less value, no tax is due even if the exchange is made after the sales tax holiday.

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Do items purchased during the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday and later returned for a credit qualify?

If a customer purchases an eligible item during a sales tax holiday, but after the sales tax holiday returns the item and receives a credit toward the subsequent purchase of a different item, the purchase of that item does not qualify for the exemption even if it is an eligible item.

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For questions regarding the sales tax holiday email us at: salesuse@dor.mo.gov