Alabama Sales Tax Holiday Planned

Alabama's annual Sales Tax Holiday begins at 12:01 A.M. on Friday, August 7, and runs through midnight on Sunday, August 9. During that weekend, shoppers can purchase a wide variety of designated "back to school" items without paying the 4% state sales tax. If the city and county governments elect to participate, and most have, local taxes will be waived also. In the city of Montgomery, for example, where both the city and county governments have opted in, shoppers will save 10% on any qualified purchase. Check the Department of Revenue's list of local governments and their participation status to see if your city and county are participating.

The holiday, which was first passed by the Legislature in 2006, has become quite popular both with shoppers and with merchants, who look for a badly needed boost in sales from the weekend. Qualifying purchases are identified in the Department's Quick Reference Guide, and include clothing, school uniforms, school supplies, books and computer equipment and supplies. Specifically, the bill exempts

  • "Articles of clothing with a sales price of $100 or less per article",
  • "A single purchase, with a sales price of seven hundred fifty dollars ($750), or less, of computers, computer software, and school computer supplies",
  • "Noncommercial purchases of school supplies, school art supplies, and school instructional material, up to a sales price of fifty dollars ($50) per item," and
  • "Noncommercial purchases of books with a sales price of not more than thirty dollars ($30) per book."

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The Legislature has gone to a great deal of trouble to identify items that it does not consider to be "articles of clothing" for purposes of the sales tax holiday. Some of the more notable exclusions are belt buckles sold separately, costume masks, sewing supplies and material to be used to make clothing, and a lengthy list of "clothing accessories or equipment". Some of the items in this last group are briefcases, purses, cosmetics, jewelry, wallets, handkerchiefs, and wigs and hairpieces. ADOR also carves out sports and recreational equipment, including ballet shoes and band instruments, as not being eligible for the waiver of tax.

Computer Supplies

The bill takes the opposite approach in the area of computer purchases. It provides an "all-inclusive" list of the items that will be eligible for tax-free purchase. This list includes, among other items that you would expect to find in such a listing, "Handheld electronic schedulers, except devices that are cellular phones", and "Personal digital assistants, except devices that are cellular phones".

School Supplies

There is another "all-inclusive" list of eligible school supplies that is very extensive and apparently very complete, including bookbags, binders, calculators, lunch boxes, and many other common school supplies. "School art supplies" includes clay and glazes, paints and paint brushes, sketch pads and drawing pads. Only two items are included as "school instructional material". They are

  • Reference maps and globes, and
  • "Required textbooks on an official school book list with a sales price of more than thirty dollars ($30) and less than fifty dollars ($50)."


The interesting thing about this category is that the bill defines "book" as "...a set of printed sheets bound together and published in a volume with an ISBN number,..". Magazines and periodicals are not eligible, but there is apparently no requirement that the book be one that is used in school, or even that it have any educational value. This may be your chance to get the complete works of Danielle Steele at a bargain price.

August 7 - 9 promises to be a busy time in Alabama's stores, and we cordially invite our neighbors from Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee to come shop with us. After all, we need the chance to recoup some small part of the money we have poured into your lotteries and casinos.

This page last updated 7/25/09

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