What to know about S.C. tax-free shopping weekend

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – This weekend could be the best time to go shopping for your student’s back-to-school essentials.

But if you live in Georgia, you’ll have to cross the state line to take advantage of the sales-tax-free weekend in South Carolina, since the Peach State doesn’t have a tax holiday this year.

From Friday to Sunday, shoppers in South Carolina can save on things like clothes, shoes, and school supplies, as the state 6 percent sales tax and any local applicable sales taxes are waived.

“One thing for parents to keep in mind is that there are some big purchases out there like computers, and printers. And even just depending on how many clothing items you buy, that could help you save more money,” said Bonnie Swingle with the South Carolina Department of Revenue.

The tax-free weekend has been around since 2000, formed as a way to let parents save on back-to-school essentials. State revenue officials say in year’s past, shoppers have saved anywhere from $2 million to $3 million as a whole each weekend.

But it’s not just purely school supplies you can save on. Clothes, shoes, bedding, towels, sheets, printers, computers, and items like lunch boxes and backpacks are all exempt from sales tax.

Shoppers should keep in mind they still will be paying tax on certain items. While mattress pads and toppers are exempt, mattresses and box springs are not. When it comes to dorm room bath supplies, shower curtains and shower curtain liners are exempt, but not hooks or rods for the shower curtains.

Printers, printer ink, and computers are exempt, but cell phones, cameras and e-readers are not. Shoppers should note that most clothes are tax exempt during the weekend, but jewelry, wallets and briefcases are not.

You can also shop online this weekend too and still get the items your child needs need tax-free.

“It’s any retailer in South Carolina, as well as any online store that sells into South Carolina. So if you’re going to your favorite neighborhood store you can shop there or go to their website to also purchase items,” she said.

For a full list of tax-free items, visit https://dor.sc.gov/taxfreeweekend.

How to shop safely

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs is encouraging consumers to navigate this shopping weekend with a thoughtful plan involving the following tips:

  • Be on-guard as you shop online. Shopping online is convenient but there are plenty of scammers surfing the web waiting for you to let your guard down. The department has compiled five ways to keep your information safe while browsing and buying online.
  • Decide your payment method. When shopping in a store, pay with cash if you have trouble sticking to a budget. If you prefer shopping online, a credit card offers more consumer fraud protections than a debit card.
  • Review financial statements. The more times and places you use your credit and debit cards while shopping, the more opportunities for a thief to intercept your information. Read your financial statements during the tax-free weekend and beyond, ensuring there are no errors or fraudulent charges. If there are, dispute them immediately.
  • Know the return policy. Review return and exchange policies so you know before you go. Don’t see it in store? Ask, especially if you are purchasing items that often have a restocking fee, like computers.
  • Make a list and stick to it. A list will help save time and avoid impulse buying and overspending. For more tips on shopping and overspending, read the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs’ Shopping Spotlight

From reports by WRDW/WAGT and WMBF

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