New Mexico Tax-Free Holiday

Back to School Shopping

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The annual New Mexico Tax-Free Holiday has been a popular way to go shopping since 2005. The tax holiday always begins the first Friday in August. For anyone getting their kids ready for going back to school, this is a huge incentive, as the state suspends taxes on many back to school items. Some merchants also absorb the tax for the weekend on non-qualifying items.

For the weekend, the state will suspend taxes on a variety of items. The law allows for a deduction from gross receipts on items of qualifying personal property, making those items "tax-free." Some categories of items have a set dollar maximum. Be sure to know what the caps are for these items. 

The tax-free holiday is a boon for families, but it's useful for others as well. Teachers more often than not purchase items for their classrooms, and the tax-free holiday is one way for them to keep costs down. Anyone can use the tax-free holiday to their advantage. Clothes shopping done this weekend will not be subject to tax, as long as it adheres to the exemption list.

To take the best advantage of the holiday, have a list in hand before going out to shop. Check the papers and store flyers to see how much items cost to find the best bargains. If you have the time, you can shop at different locations and save a little more. Map out your route to best advantage if you plan to go out only once. Parents who want to know what to get their middle and high school students for school should have received information from the school or can go online to see what's required. For middle and high schools, the requirements vary. For elementary students, Albuquerque Public Schools has a list of what's required for each grade. Kindergarten classrooms will need different supplies than fourth graders.

Items That Quality as Tax-Free

  • Clothing and shoes that sell for less than $100 per unit.
  • Computers (desktop, notebook or laptop) that sell for less than $1,000.
  • Monitors, speakers, printers, keyboards, microphones and mouses for a computer; items can be no more than $500.
  • School supplies normally used in the classroom, such as paper, writing instruments, notebooks, binders, crayons, art supplies, priced under $30.
  • Bookbags, handheld calculators, maps and globes that are under $100 per item.

What's Excluded

  • Watches, radios, compact disc players, headphones, sporting equipment, portable desktop telephones, copiers, office equipment, office furniture or office equipment. 
  • Clothing must be of a certain type. For example, antique clothing that is not for wear is not tax-free, nor are ballet shoes or baseball gloves or bathing suits. Costumes are taxable, as are leg warmers and shoes with cleats. Sports uniforms are taxable, as are wallets and billfolds.
  • Jewelry is taxable.
  • Under the category of computers and computer items, CDs are taxable. So is software unless it is bundled with the computer. Joysticks and headsets are taxable.
  • Under the category of school supplies, certain items are taxable, such as backpacks for hiking, books that are not for school use, compact disc players, digital cameras, dry boards, gym bags, and fax machines are all taxable. 

Where to Shop

For back to school shopping, most of the discount chain stores are a good bet for paper, pens, pencils, and notebooks. For computers and higher ticket electronics, it's always best to shop around ahead of time to see what the costs will be. Shopping malls will have stores that offer discounts on clothing items. Coronado Mall has Sears, JC Penney, Kohl's, Macy's and Gordmans. Uptown has North Face, Gap, and J. Crew. Winrock has Dillard's and Cottonwood Mall has Old Navy, Eddie Bauer, Forever 21, JC Penney and Dillard's. 

For chain electronics stores, Albuquerque has Best Buy and the Apple Store in Uptown Center.

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