Tips for shopping during Tennessee’s tax-free weekend

While Georgia no longer offers a tax-free weekend, Tennessee officially started its tax-free weekend at 12:01 a.m. Friday and will continue the tax-free sales on selected items through midnight Sunday.

You can buy clothes, school supplies and other items without paying sales tax, but there are limits on cost as well as other guidelines. These purchases apply whether your children learn at home or head to school in person.

BBB recommends the following tips when looking for school-related items, either in person or online:

Before determining what your children may need for the year, it's best to set a budget. Planning ahead as much as possible will help keep expenses to a minimum and help everyone involved stay on task.

Also, when getting ready to shop in-store, it's best to contact the store ahead of time if you have questions about hours, policies or to see if supplies are in stock.

Make bigger purchases first to ensure you get the most benefit from tax-free sales, especially since there is often high demand for tax-free items during tax holidays. For computers, the tax-free weekend applies to personal use computers with a purchase price of $1,500 or less, including laptop computers and tablet computers, so if you need a new computer and school notebooks, start with the computer and snag it tax-free before it's out of stock.

But first check with your child's school to learn about any technical requirements and research the brands, warranty, customer reviews and prices at various stores to make sure the best deal can be had. Also, look up the retailer's reputation on

For clothing-related purchases, the state will recognize general apparel that costs $100 or less per item, such as shirts, pants, pairs of socks, pairs of shoes and dresses. It does not include items such as jewelry, handbags or sports and recreational equipment.

For school supplies, the state allows school and art supplies with a purchase price of $100 or less per item, such as binders, backpacks, crayons, paper, pens, pencils, and rulers, and art supplies such as glazes, clay, paints, drawing pads, and artist paintbrushes.

The tax-free break doesn't apply to school and art supplies that are individually priced at more than $100 and items that are normally sold together cannot be split up to stay beneath the $100 maximum.

Related items that aren't part of the tax break include storage media, like flash drives and compact discs, individually purchased software, printer supplies and household appliances.

Many stores and software companies offer discounts. Some are available to students with either an .edu email address or a student ID. Others may have a discount for signing up for marketing materials or you can check online to see if retailers are offering online coupons and discounts. Make sure the sites offering the coupons are truly affiliated with the retailer. It doesn't hurt to ask, even if you don't see a deal advertised at the store.

You can also check to see if there's an opportunity to do some deal-stacking. Deal-stacking means using several money-saving methods at once to maximize your savings. Look for coupons and cash-back offers you can use during tax-free holidays to save the most.

Some teachers may ask parents to buy bulk items (paper towels, tissues, wipes, hand sanitizer) for the entire classroom to use throughout the year. You can consider comparing lists with other parents to see if costs can be shared and can also benefit greatly by buying in bulk during the tax-free period.

Shop wisely, safely online

Scammers will likely be looking for ways to take advantage of this peak time for shopping. When shopping online, be wary of clickbait ads that feature items that imply that you may want or need them based on your search history. Scammers could be trying to drive you to a different website to potentially steal personal information. Take note of the ad and go to the store's website by directly typing into the search bar. Make note of the website's privacy policy and contact information, and always use a credit card when making a purchase.

For more information, you can contact your BBB at 423-266-6144, email BBB at, or visit BBB's Back to School HQ on

  photo  Staff photo / Chattanooga Better Business Bureau President Michele Mason


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