More than 15 states in the United States have a Sales Tax Holiday or a Tax-Free Weekend when people can shop and have the state sales tax waived. Although there are often restrictions on which items apply to the zero tax event, many people wait to buy their bigger ticket items for that day. Many states schedule the day around the time that kids are going back to school to help parents save money on school clothes and supplies.
They typically last from two to seven days.
In Arizona, we do not have a state-legislated Tax-Free Weekend or Free Tax Day, and it's really too far from most major cities in Arizona, like Phoenix or Tucson, to drive to a nearby state to take advantage of a tax break. New Mexico is the closest state to Phoenix to have a sales tax holiday. The best thing we can do to save money on back-to-school shopping is to watch out for great sales. You probably can save more than the amount of the sales tax if you do!
You say you heard ads on radio or saw ads on television that indicated that you could "save the tax?" These retailers are simply making it seem like a tax-free holiday by offering to take a percentage off their item that is equal to the amount of sales tax you would typically pay. It's just a sale. They are still paying tax to the city/county/state for the retail purchase like they would for any other sale they are running.
You'll want to focus on sales that are more than 10% off to offset sales tax in most of our Arizona cities and town. For example, sales tax (2016) on regular retail items like school supplies in Phoenix totals 8.6%. The sales tax in Tucson is 8.1%.
Want to know which states have a tax-free holiday? Here's the list (Source: Federation of Tax Administrators):
Discounts for Arizona Teachers
Arizona has long been recognized (and not in a good way) for being one of the states that provides the least funding per student. It is not unusual for dedicated teachers to spend their own money to buy resource material and supplies for their classrooms. AdoptaClassroom.org reports that 92% of teachers in the U.S. used their own money to purchase classroom supplies for their students (2012). In a survey released in June 2013, The National School Supply and Equipment Association report indicated that in the U.S. "...99.5% of teachers reported spending their own money on school supplies, instructional materials and/or other classroom materials.
In those other states, teachers who purchase classroom supplies often take advantage of their tax-free week or weekend. While we wish every Arizona teacher had a budget large enough to effectively do the job without tax discounts, there are some retailers in the Greater Phoenix area that can assist.
7 Phoenix Area Retailers that Offer Discount Programs for Teachers
Although it is not a retailer, the Phoenix Symphony's Educator Club also supports our teachers with a program offering teachers half price tickets to many of their concerts. Some restrictions apply.
Do you know of another retailer or organization in Maricopa County that offers special pricing for teachers on a permanent basis? Email the information to me and I will check it out.
All offerings are subject to change without notice.