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It’s time for Missouri’s back-to-school tax-free weekend

School Illustration
File | Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Public Radio

Missourians shopping for back-to-school supplies can take advantage of the state’s tax-free weekend this Friday through Sunday.

The tax holiday applies to clothing, school supplies and computers for the 4.22-percent state sales tax, as well as the local sales tax in participating jurisdictions.

But the Better Business Bureau recommends that consumers do some reading, writing and arithmetic before they start to shop in stores or online. Chris Thetford, vice president of communications at the BBB in St. Louis, said not everything sold in back-to-school sales may qualify.

“You need to understand what’s covered: Essentially, it comes down to things like clothing, footwear, personal computers, peripheral devices, computer software and school supplies.”

The sales-tax exemption is limited to:

  • Clothing — any article having a taxable value of $100 or less
  • School supplies — not to exceed $50 per purchase
  • Computer software — taxable value of $350 or less
  • Personal computers — not to exceed $1,500
  • Computer peripheral devices — not to exceed $1,500
  • Graphing calculators — not to exceed $150

The Missouri Department of Revenue’s websitegives more information about which items fall under each category.


Back-to-school shopping is the second biggest shopping season of the year, behind Christmas. The tax-free weekend will likely be a boon for stores throughout Missouri.

According to an annual back-to-school surveyof parents by Deloitte, families favor shopping in local stores compared to online when it comes to school supplies.

“We’re finding bricks and mortar are holding their own,” said Ron Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte Consulting LLP and U.S. Retail, Wholesale & Distribution leader. “And people are telling us it’s because of convenience.”

Brad Jones, Missouri state director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), said he’s not surprised by the bricks-and-mortar trend for back-to-school shopping.

“Customer service and having a friendly face is still important, and that’s what small businesses provide,” he said.

The Deloitte survey shows that big-box stores and dollar stores are still the most popular among school supply shoppers. But there is a trend to buy at speciality shops and office-supply stores among higher-income families.

“It seems like there are rituals in families,” Jones said. “Kids like to pick out their backpacks, their notebooks in person. And most of all, it’s still important to have the right clothes for the first day of school.”

Deloitte projects Americans will spend $28 billion on kindergarten-through-high-school supplies, while families with kids heading to college are expected to spend $25 billion.

Follow Melody on Twitter @melodybird