Go green and take advantage of the tax-free weekend for school supplies


Each year it seems the school supply displays appear earlier and earlier. There are countless options for notebooks, pens, and folders. I noticed recently that now you are not only able to buy 64 different crayola colors, you can purchase boxes of 8 variations of a single color per box (green, pink, red, blue…). So how do you decide which sale is best, which crayolanotebook to purchase, and which store to visit. Here are a few tips that might get you started:

  1. Think of any locally owned stores that you can check out first. Shopping local is a huge benefit for your community as a whole.
  2. Take a look at the local thrift stores for any items they might stock: binders, clothes, shoes
  3. Recycled content: look for products that are made from recycled content and can be recycled when you are finished with them. 
  4. Make sure any plastic you purchase is BPA-Free (lunch box, water bottles)
  5. Look for durable items that will last for years, especially backpacks and lunch boxes. These items take a beating, but good quality will survive.
  6. Purchase some reusable utensils to include in lunches (these can be found in the local thrift stores)
  7. Host a clothing swap party with your school friends
  8. Avoid buying too many supplies by inventorying what you already have at home.
  9. Look for pens and pencils made from sustainably harvested wood or recycled content.
  10. Spend as little as possible to get the best quality and quantity that you need for a successful school year. Take advantage of the sales tax holiday. Remember, if it is not affordable, it is not sustainable.

Sales tax holiday information:

Under Virginia law, most purchases of tangible personal property are subject to both state and local sales and use taxes. The tax rate is generally 5.3% (6% in certain jurisdictions) of the cost price. The rate on sales of food for home consumption is 2.5%.

A sales tax holiday is a temporary period during which purchases of certain items are exempt from the sales and use taxes. Following legislation enacted by the 2007 Session of the Virginia General Assembly, Virginia now has three annual sales tax holidays. In addition to the specific items exempted for each holiday period, dealers may also elect to absorb the tax on any item they wish during that period.

August 2-4, 2013 is the School supplies and clothing sales tax holiday. During this three-day period, purchases of certain school supplies, clothing, and footwear will be exempt from the Virginia sales tax. Each eligible school supply item must be priced at $20 or less and each eligible article of clothing and footwear must be priced at $100 or less. “School supply,” means an item that is commonly used by a student in a course of study. For purposes of the sales tax holiday, the term includes, “school art supply,” “school instructional material,” and “school music supply.” The term does not include computers or “school computer supplies,” and such items may not be purchased exempt of the tax.

The next sales tax holiday is October 11-14, 2013: Energy star and watersense qualified products.

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