2015 August Sales Tax Holiday Facts

Alabama’s sales tax holiday is for everybody, not just those going back to school. It is everywhere. The state’s four percent sales tax is waived throughout the state. And most retailers carry one or more of the items covered.

Tax HolidayFrom 12:01 a.m. Friday, Aug. 7, to midnight, Sunday, Aug. 9, the state’s four-percent sales tax as well as local sales taxes levied by participating governments (see next fact) are waived on:

  • clothing priced at $100 or less;
  • school supplies valued at $50 or less;
  • books that cost $30 or less; and textbooks at $50 or less; and
  • computers and computer equipment with a selling price of $750 or less.

A record 304 local governments also will waive their sales taxes on the selected items for the three-day weekend! That is 13 more than the 291 that participated last year when the last record was set.  The 304 represents 59 counties and 245 cities.

145 localities have participated every year since 2006.

15 more localities now automatically participate each year, although 16 new cities voted this year to participate every year: Arab, Bridgeport, Daphne, Decatur, Fairfield, Fairview, Fort Payne, Malvern, Montevallo, Opp, Pell City, Satsuma, Stevenson, Sylvania, Vina and Vincent;  Goshen voted this year to drop out of participating. Goshen had been automatically participating every year.

Eight cities join the sales tax holiday for the first time: Bridgeport, Camp Hill, Fairview, Hillsboro, Stevenson, Vance, Vina and Vincent

Eight localities are back after sitting out one or more years: Adamsville, Columbia, Geneva County, Moulton, Phil Campbell, Piedmont, Prichard and Sylvania

The average family with school-aged children in the South is expected to spend $627.01 on back-to-school items, $43.47 less than in 2014 ($670.48). The expected average nationally is $630.36. View the full National Retail Federation Back to School Spending Survey.

The average family with college-age children in the South is expected to spend $961.22 on back-to-school items. $50.45 more than in 2014 ($910.77). The expected average nationally is $899.18. View the full NRF Back to College Spending Survey.

The tax holiday falls the weekend before many Alabama public schools start. Thirty percent of back-to-school shoppers will wait until one or two weeks before school to start shopping, up from 25 percent last year, according to the 2015 NRF Back to School/College Spending Survey. More back-to-school and college shopping trends.

17 states have back-to-school sales tax holidays: All are in August, 11 are on the same weekend as Alabama.

All of the surrounding states have sales tax holidays:  Mississippi’s and Georgia’s is the weekend before Alabama’s; Florida’s and Tennessee’s sales tax holidays are on the same weekend as Alabama’s or overlap with that weekend.

Alabama offers more tax-free items than Mississippi or Florida. Only clothes and shoes are tax free in Mississippi, while Florida has a lower threshold for school supplies and offers no tax break for books.

None of the states that border Alabama offer a tax break for ALL books under a certain price. Georgia and Tennessee do offer a tax break for school-specific reference, text and work books.

Alabamians should spend $1.02 billion on back-to-school shopping. Alabama sales generally represent 1.5 percent of all retail sales nationally. The National Retail Federation projects $68 billion ($24.9B for K-12 and $43.2B for college), which puts Alabama spending at an estimated $1.02 billion.

August sales in Alabama will grow by 3 percent over last August (which was our best August since 2008). Alabamians will spend close to $4.6 billion in August. That is all sales, all month, not just on back-to-school.

Actual numbers from 2014:
$178,434,597.64 in sales taxes collected on an estimated $4.46 billion in sales

Projection for 2015:
$183,787,635.57 in sales taxes will be collected on an estimated $4.59 billion in sales

In eight of the first nine years of the sales tax holiday, August sales state revenue grew! The sales tax collection growth rate in the month of August for those eight years was:

2006: 10.4 percent                       2007: 4.6 percent                    2008: 7.28 percent
2010: 2.4 percent                          2011: 6.26 percent                  2012: 2.66 percent
: 2.81 percent                       2014: 5.4 percent

Even in the one negative year, sales tax collections for August exceeded pre-sales tax holiday numbers. While the $147,408,395.14 in sales tax collected in August of 2009 represented an 18.22 percent decline behind what was collected in August of 2008, tax collections for that month still exceeded the August 2005 collections of $145,482,717.74 when the state didn’t have a sales tax holiday.

The sales tax holiday weekend is big business for retailers. The volume of business retailers do this weekend can come in right behind after-Thanksgiving or after-Christmas sales periods, especially for those that sell one or more of the tax-exempt items.

Learn more about Alabama’s August sales tax holiday

2015 national trends for back-to-school and college shopping