Do You Know: What Is a Tax Holiday?

Triston Martin Updated on Aug 23, 2022


What Is a Tax Holiday? A tax holiday is when the government temporarily cuts or stops collecting a tax, such as a payroll, property, or sales tax. A tax holiday is a period during which some taxes are exempted entirely or reduced, typically for specific spending categories. It is hoped that this will increase overall consumer spending or make certain essential products more affordable. Knowing when the next tax holiday will be, you can make shopping plans that will result in cost savings. Find out when the various tax holidays are and how you may take advantage of them by learning more about this topic.

Why Do Sales Tax Breaks Exist?

In 1980, the states of Ohio and Michigan were the first to implement sales tax holidays by providing one-time tax cuts to purchase automobiles. On the other hand, New York was the state that started the current practice in 1997 when it instituted the first sales tax holiday for clothes. The state of New York wanted to stop "cross-border shopping" when people of one state traveled to neighboring states to shop because those jurisdictions had lower sales tax rates. There was optimism that the sales tax holiday would cut down on purchasing across state lines without necessitating a reduction in the state's overall sales tax rate. Although sales tax holidays are frequently defended because they benefit the economy, one key factor contributing to their proliferation is the temptation to restrict buying across state lines and even to attract customers from neighboring states.

How Does It Work

In most cases, a cap is placed on the total dollar amount of tax-free merchandise purchased during sales tax holidays. For instance, the application of sales tax is waived for transactions involving apparel and footwear that do not exceed $100 for each item purchased. If the item's price is higher than the threshold, the entire amount is subject to taxation in most circumstances. In some places, the exemption might only apply to the state tax rate and not the local tax rate, or it might only reduce the state tax rate. Additionally, the exemption might only apply to the state tax rate. Purchases made by businesses are not often exempt from sales tax holidays.

There is no set schedule for sales tax holidays; nevertheless, July and August seem to be the months in which they are most frequently observed. The "back-to-school" sales tax holidays occur around this time of year. Typically, sales tax holidays for severe weather preparedness items occur earlier in the year, and holidays honoring the Second Amendment take place in the early fall before hunting season begins.

Sales tax holidays may occur yearly or on a one-time basis at the government's discretion. Legislation is passed at the state level that specifies when the sales tax holiday will occur and, if it is an annual holiday, how often it will occur. The average length of a holiday is three days, though, in some states, this period may be extended. Concerns about the budget frequently lead to postponing or completely eliminating a sales tax holiday.

What a Tax Holiday Means for Individuals

You have the opportunity to reduce the amount of money you pay in taxes during tax holidays. You should save your shopping for items that are eligible for a lower or no sales tax for the holidays if you live in a state that provides a holiday to reduce or eliminate sales tax.

As an illustration, certain states exempt from sales tax the purchase of Energy Star-qualified home appliances. Consequently, if you are a resident of state x and want to purchase an efficient washing machine for energy use, you should consider delaying your purchase until the tax holiday. Because of this, you won't have to pay any sales tax on the brand-new washer you purchase.

Your savings may build up rapidly depending on your state's sales tax and the items you purchase. If you made a purchase for $2,500 in Massachusetts, for instance, during one of the state's sales tax holidays, you wouldn't have to pay the state's 6.25 percent sales tax. This would result in a savings of $156.25, which is the amount you would have saved had you not made the transaction.

Online Purchases and Telephone Orders

During the holiday, you can purchase eligible items in-store, online, over the phone or mail, via particular order, or any other method you choose. The sale of the item in question must occur during the allotted time frame. When a purchase is made in-store, determining the purchase date is straightforward; however, determining the date of an online transaction presents more challenges. Even though the item might not be delivered until after the term has ended, the purchaser must have made the payment for the item during the applicable period.

For instance, if a buyer enters their credit card information into an online shopping website on Sunday, August 7, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. to purchase eligible school supplies, the school supplies will not be shipped until Friday, August 12, 2022. However, suppose the charge made to your credit card by the payment processor at 11:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 7, 2022, is refused, and the customer does not resubmit payment until Monday, August 8. In that case, the purchase will be considered taxable.


A consumer or business may benefit from a tax holiday in the form of an incentive offered by the government in the form of a temporary reduction or elimination of taxes. A tax holiday is intended to stimulate economic activity and support overall growth as its primary goal. Tax breaks may be made available to firms as another potential form of financial incentive for firms. The question of whether or not the benefits of tax breaks justify their expenses is actively being discussed. Several states that have recently provided sales tax holidays have decided not to continue in the face of political pressure.