Back-to-school shoppers to get weekend break from state sales tax

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 | 5:33 p.m. CDT; updated 7:07 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 31, 2014

COLUMBIA — Shoppers can load up on school supplies and save some money this weekend.

From 12:01 a.m. Friday through Sunday, shoppers buying certain school supplies, clothing and computer devices will be not be charged the state sales tax of 4.225 percent on those purchases, according to the Missouri Department of Revenue. The state established the back-to-school tax holiday in 2003.

Eligible and ineligible items


Purchases exempt from state sales tax this weekend include:

Clothing of $100 or less: Clothing and footwear, as well as material used to make school uniforms.

School supplies less than $50: School items that are typically used in classrooms such as textbooks, paper, writing utensils, backpacks and handheld calculators.

Personal computers under $3,500: Laptops, desktops and computer accessories such as keyboards, mouses and printers.

Computer software under $350

Not eligible:

Watches, radios, jewelry, handbags, umbrellas, sporting equipment and headphones.

For more information on the holiday sales tax and what it means to vendors and consumers, a complete list of items included or exempted, a list of cities, counties and districts opting out of the holiday sales tax, visit the Missouri Department of Revenue's website.

Boone County and Columbia opted out of the holiday, so customers will still have to pay county and city sales taxes.

"The primary reason for opting out would be to not lose that revenue source," said Lynn Cannon, assistant finance director for Columbia. "If the city were to forgo those funds, it results in less money available for city operations."

The Columbia City Council has opted out of the holiday sales tax since the tax holiday began in 2003. In 2006, the council passed an ordinance to opt out permanently.

Sales tax in 2013 accounted for 39 percent of the revenue in the city's general fund, which is used for general operations such as police, fire and administration, Cannon said.

Columbia's dedicated sales tax, which is 2 percent, goes to four different sources.  One percent goes to the general funds, while a quarter-cent tax goes to capital improvements, another quarter-cent helps fund parks and the remaining half-cent goes to transportation, Cannon said.

Sales tax accounts for 70 percent of revenue for the Boone County government, Northern District Commissioner Janet Thompson said.

Shoppers in Columbia will still save money by not paying the state sales tax. For example, if they buy a $1,000 laptop, they would save $42.25.

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