TRENTON – New Jersey’s first sales-tax holiday on back-to-school items begins Saturday and runs through Labor Day.

The suspension of the state’s 6.625% sales tax on certain items starts later than in other states with a similar program, some of which start their school years earlier, but lasts longer than most.

It was approved as part of the new state budget, through a law that makes it an annual event. It is anticipated that the change will save consumers $75 million in taxes.

Fifteen states and Washington, D.C., have back-to-school sales tax exemptions currently, not counting the five states that don’t have sales taxes.

Information compiled from the Federation of Tax Administrators shows New Jersey includes computers that are far more expensive than any other state – up to $3,000 per device, double the next closest state.

The sales tax suspension runs for 10 days, from Aug. 27 to Sept. 5. Some schools in New Jersey start their school year before the program kicks off, and even in the majority of schools that wait until after Labor Day, parents often start buying their kids’ school supplies earlier.

A national survey by Deloitte done in May and June found that parents plan to spend an average of $661 on back-to-school shopping this year, 8% above last year. But that includes clothing and shoes, which are already exempt from sales taxes in New Jersey.

“As inflation remains a central worry, this sales tax holiday is one of the ways in which we are prioritizing affordability for our families,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “This holiday will cut the cost for the most essential items needed for educational success and help make New Jersey more affordable."

Assembly Republicans estimate consumers will spend an average of around $434 on school supplies and electronics, removing the tax-exempt items from the total. The tax savings on $434 would be $28.75.

The sales-tax holiday applies to both brick-and-mortar stores and online sales, said the state Treasury Department.

Tax-exempt supplies and equipment covered by the holiday include:

  • School supplies, such as pens and pencils, notebooks and binders
  • School art supplies, such as paints and paintbrushes, clay and glazes
  • School instructional materials, such as reference books, reference maps, globes, textbooks and workbooks
  • Computers with a price of less than $3,000 and school computer supplies, such as computer storage equipment, printers and personal digital assistants with a sales price of less than $1,000 per item
  • Sports or recreational equipment, including but not limited to ballet and tap shoes, baseball and hockey gloves, cleated or spiked athletic shoes, mouth guards, roller and ice skates, and sports and motorcycle helmets

For a full list from the state Treasury Department, click here.

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Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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