The Sales and Use Tax Division of the N.C. Department of Revenue has announced the dates and regulations for this year’s back-to-school tax-free weekend.  The tax holiday is Friday, August 3 through Sunday, August 5.  The Department of Revenue first held this tax-free weekend in August 2002.

Parents and students from pre-school to college will be filling retail stores for their school needs.  Young children rely on crayons, almost everyone needs number two pencils, and college students will spend as little as they can get away with on textbooks.

Retailers are required to comply with the non-taxation.  They are not permitted to charge tax and tell customers to request a tax refund through the state.  If tax is charged during the tax-free weekend, customers should obtain a refund through the retailer.  Retailer coupons apply discounts before determining the price eligibility of items, whereas manufactures’ coupons will not deduct savings from the original price to make an item tax-free.

To qualify, clothing items must be priced at $100 or less per item; sports and recreational equipment must be $50 or less per item; computers must be $3,500 or less per item; computer supplies must be $250 or less per item; school supplies must be $100 or less per item; school instructional materials must be $300 or less per item.

Computers include a central processing unit, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers. Purchases of a single monitor, keyboard, mouse, or speakers without the CPU will be taxed.  Tablets are considered computers but eReaders are not, and are therefore taxed.  Rented items, like textbooks, will also be taxed.

The University Area’s local textbook store, Gray’s College Bookstore, prepares for this weekend each year with advertising and additional sales.

“It’s a great opportunity to save that extra eight percent.  Pretty much everything in the store is tax-free,” said Jeremy Slone, Gray’s retail manager.  “We actively tell people about it.  We couple a sale with it to increase the savings to the students.”

Below is a complete list of non-taxable items provided by the Sales and Use Tax Division:


  • Aprons, household and shop
  • Athletic supporters
  • Baby receiving blankets
  • Bandannas
  • Bathing suits and caps; beach capes and coats
  • Belts and suspenders
  • Boots; overshoes
  • Coats, jackets, capes, and wraps
  • Costumes (does not include costume masks sold separately)
  • Diapers (children and adults, including disposables)
  • Earmuffs
  • Gloves and mittens for general use
  • Hats and caps
  • Hosiery
  • Scarves
  • Formal wear (does not include rentals)
  • Garters and garter belts; girdles; leotards and tights; panty hose; socks; stockings and footlets; underwear
  • Insoles for shoes
  • Jogging suits
  • Lab coats
  • Neckties
  • Rainwear
  • Rubber pants
  • Sandals; shoes and shoelaces; slippers; sneakers; steel-toed shoes
  • Uniforms (athletic and nonathletic uniforms when purchased for nonbusiness use)
  • Wedding apparel (does not include rentals)

Sport or recreational equipment:

  • Ballet and tap shoes
  • Cleated or spiked athletic shoes Gloves (baseball, bowling, boxing, hockey, golf, and other sports)
  • Goggles
  • Hand and elbow guards
  • Helmets (bicycle, skating, baseball, and other sports)
  • Life preservers and vests
  • Mouth guards
  • Roller and ice skates
  • Shin guards
  • Shoulder pads
  • Ski boots
  • Waders, wetsuits, and fins

Computers and computer supplies:

  • Computer storage media, including diskettes and compact disks
  • Handheld electronic schedulers, except devices that are cellular phones
  • Personal digital assistants, except devices that are cellular phones
  • Computer printers
  • Printer supplies for computers, including printer paper and printer ink

School supplies:

  • Binders
  • Blackboard chalk
  • Book bags
  • Calculators
  • Cellophane tape
  • Clay and glazes
  • Compasses
  • Composition books
  • Crayons
  • Erasers
  • Folders (expandable, pocket, plastic, and manila)
  • Glue, paste, and paste sticks
  • Highlighters
  • Index card boxes
  • Index cards
  • Legal pads
  • Lunch boxes
  • Markers
  • Notebooks
  • Paintbrushes for artwork
  • Paints (acrylic, tempora, 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 (includes pencil leads)
  • Pens (includes pen refills)
  • Protractors
  • Rulers
  • Scissors
  • Sketch and drawing pads
  • Watercolors
  • Writing tablets

School instructional materials:

  • Reference books
  • Reference maps and globes
  • Textbooks
  • Workbooks