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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County schools. You can email him at

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Sales tax holiday for school supplies is Aug. 3-5

For those savoring every moment of summer break, I apologize in advance for this intrusion.

But for parents who carefully spend every penny of each dollar, the tax-free days for buying school supplies are Aug. 3, 4 and 5.

You can buy school supplies – including clothing – on those days and not pay sales tax. That means you, retailers and the economy benefit, says Nicole Riley, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

“The sales tax holiday is kind of like the day after Thanksgiving,” Riley said. “It gets people fired up and puts them in the mood to shop, and that’s what the economy needs right now.”

Below is a list of items that do and don’t qualify, courtesy of the Virginia Department of Taxation.

List of School Supplies Eligible for the Exemption

“School supply,” means an item that is commonly used by a student in a course

of study. For purposes of the sales tax holiday, the term includes, “school art

supply,” “school instructional material,” and “school music supply.” The term does not include computers or “school computer supplies”, and such items may not be purchased exempt of the tax.

The following is an all-inclusive list of items that are included in the term “school supply” and are therefore exempt from tax during the sales tax holiday period, provided their sales price is $20 or less per item.

Only the following items are exempt as school supplies. Items need not be intended for use in school or in connection with a school activity to be eligible for the exemption.

• Binder pockets

• Binders

• Blackboard chalk

• Book bags

• Calculators

• Cellophane tape

• Clay and glazes

• Compasses

• Composition books

• Crayons

• Dictionaries and thesauruses

• Dividers

• Erasers (including dry erase marker erasers and dry erase marker

• cleaning solution)

• Folders: expandable, pocket, plastic, and manila

• Glue, paste, and paste sticks

• Highlighters

• Index card boxes

• Index cards

• Legal pads

• Lunch boxes

• Markers (including dry erase markers and dry erase marker kits)

• Musical instruments, musical instrument accessories, and replacement

items for musical instruments

• Notebooks

• Paintbrushes for artwork

• Paints (acrylic, tempera, and oil) • Paper: loose leaf ruled notebook paper, copy paper, graph paper, tracing

paper, manila paper, colored paper, poster board and construction paper

• Pencil boxes and other school supply boxes

• Pencil sharpeners

• Pencils

• Pens

• Protractors

• Reference books

• Reference maps and globes

• Rulers

• Scissors

• Sheet music

• Sketch and drawing pads

• Textbooks

• Watercolors

• Workbooks; and

• Writing tablets

Clothing Eligible for Exemption:

“Clothing” means any article of wearing apparel and typical footwear intended to  be worn on or about the human body. Clothing does not include sporting

equipment or footwear designed primarily for athletic activity or protective use

and not usually considered appropriate for everyday wear. These items may not

be purchased exempt of the tax.

The following items are included considered “clothing” and are  exempt from  sales tax  provided their sales price is $100 or less per item. This list is not all-inclusive. Other items meeting the definition of clothing may be purchased exempt of the tax.

• Aprons, household and shop

• Athletic supporters

• Baby bibs and clothes

• Baby receiving blankets

• Bandanas

• Bathing suits, swim trunks, cover-ups and bathing caps

• Beach capes and coats

• Belts and suspenders

• Bibs

• Boots

• Choir and altar clothing

• Clerical vestments

• Coats, jackets, and windbreakers

• Corsets and corset laces

• Costumes (sold not rented)

• Coveralls

• Diapers, children and adult, including disposable diapers

• Dresses

• Ear muffs

• Footlets

• Formal wear for men and women (sold, not rented)

• Fur coats and stoles, shawls and wraps

• Garters and garter belts

• Girdles

• Gloves and mittens for general use

• Golf clothing, caps, dresses, shirts, skirts, pants

• Gym suits and uniforms

• Hats and caps

• Hosiery

• Insoles, inserts for shoes

• Jeans

• Jerseys (both athletic and non-athletic)

• Lab coats

• Legwarmers

• Leotards and tights

• Lingerie

• Neckwear, including bow ties, neckties, and scarves

• Nightgowns

• Overshoes and rubber shoes

• Pajamas

• Pantyhose

• Raincoats, rain hats, and ponchos

• Robes • Rubber pants

• Rubber thong/flip-flops

• Sandals

• Scarves

• Shirts and blouses

• Shoes and shoe laces

• Shorts

• Skirts

• Slacks

• Slippers

• Slips

• Sneakers

• Socks and stockings, including athletic socks

• Steel toed shoes

• Suits

• Suspenders

• Underwear

• Uniforms, athletic and non-athletic

• Vests

• Wedding apparel, including veils (sold not rented)


Below are lists of items not exempt from the sales tax. They include school computer supplies, clothing accessory items, protective equipment and sports or recreational equipment. The lists contain examples and are not intended to be all-inclusive.

School computer supplies  (not exempt)

• Computer storage media; diskettes; compact disks

• Handheld electronic schedulers

• Personal digital assistants

• Printers for computers; and

• Printer supplies for computers; printer paper, printer ink

Clothing accessory items (not exempt):

• Briefcases

• Cosmetics

• Fabric, thread, and yarn used to make clothing

• Hair notions, including, but not limited to, barrettes, hair bows, and hair


• Handbags

• Handkerchiefs

• Jewelry

• Sun glasses, non-prescription

• Umbrellas

• Wallets

• Watches

• Wigs and hair pieces

Protective Equipment (not exempt):

• Breathing masks

• Clean room apparel and equipment

• Ear and hearing protectors

• Face shields

• Hard hats

• Helmets

• Paint or dust respirators

• Protective gloves

• Safety belts

• Safety glasses and goggles

• Tool belts; and

• Welders gloves and masks

Sport or recreational equipment (not exempt):

• Ballet and tap shoes

• Cleated or spiked athletic shoes

• Gloves, including, but not limited to, baseball, bowling, boxing, hockey,

and golf

• Goggles

• Hand and elbow guards

• Life preservers and vests

• Mouth guards

• Roller and ice skates

• Shin guards

• Shoulder pads

• Ski boots

• Waders

• Wetsuits and fins