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and the Moms Who Live Here

Back-to-School Tax-Free Holiday: What You Need to Know

Heard about Florida’s Back-To-School Tax-Free Holiday? Think its a great way to save some cash? Well, it is! And if you can afford it, donating supplies is a great way to help out your community. Just ask any teacher!


However, you DON’T want to do what I’ve done in the past…

Last year I was thinking, “Sweet! I’m stocking up on all sorts of stuff!” while filling my cart with everything anyone could possibly envision as somehow “school” related. I discovered half of the stuff wasn’t even covered after waiting in line for who knows how long and continuing to impulse shop to the very end.

How much money did I save? … not even enough for the gas money I spent driving around to find parking.

Feeling defeated, and even more so as I’m battling traffic on the way home (and believe me, there’s always a ton of it around tax-free time, especially to and from the outlets, so be prepared), I began to question the sanity or lack thereof behind this whole tax-free holiday. It definitely didn’t feel like a “holiday” to me – except for the traffic.

This year, I decided to do some digging to find out what kind of items are actually covered before venturing out. To my surprise, several useful items – like diapers – are covered! 

That’s right: DIAPERS=Tax Free.


Tax-Free vs. Taxed

Navigating what’s covered versus what’s NOT covered is a bit tricky, but here’s a little bit of a breakdown.

Most Clothing Items – $60 or less per item
Most School Supplies – $15 and under per item

Here’s some of what I consider to be surprising examples of which items are tax-free.

Yes – Diapers and Diaper Bags! (including diaper inserts for adult and baby, cloth or disposable)
No – Crib Sheets and Blankets

Yes – Athletic Supporters, Cleated and Spiked shoes, Youth Bicycle Helmets
No – Athletic Protective Masks, Guards, Padding, Gloves, or Athletic Helmets (except for Youth Bicycle Helmets)

Yes – Swimsuits, Fishing, and Hunting Vests
No – Swim Masks, Life Jackets, and Flotation Devices

Yes – Raincoats
No – Umbrellas

Yes – Notebook Filler Paper and Construction Paper
No – Computer and Printing Paper

Yes – Composition Books
No – Books not otherwise exempt

And in case you didn’t know, these items are ALWAYS exempt:

  • Religious Clothing – such as choir and Altar clothing, and clerical vestments
  • Braces and supports worn to correct or alleviate a physical incapacity or injury
  • Bicycle helmets marketed for use by youth

By the way, the Florida Tax-Free Holiday does NOT apply to basically ANYTHING sold in a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishment, or airport. So don’t get all crazy on some undoubtedly overwhelmed retail employee at any of those places if you happen to be traveling that weekend. 

As someone who has previously worked in retail for many years, I can attest that any sort of tax-free holiday can be a challenging experience, not just for the customer, but for the employees, so please remember to be patient and kind.


You can view the full lists of qualifying items here for Florida’s 2018 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday August 3 through August 5 and here

Useful Links

Your St. Johns County School District Back to School Guide

Locate Your Local St. Johns County School Website Here

Tips & Tricks to Buying School Supplies

If you’d like some tips on building a school supply stockpile for yourself (or others), check out these other helpful articles.

Tips for Back to School Shopping: How to Find the Best Deals

Best Buys for School Supplies (Hint: Shop NOW!)

Target School List Assist :: Crush School Supply Shopping in Five Minutes or Less


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