BBB Offers Shopping Tips for Back-to-School Tax Holiday Slated for Aug. 5-7

August 03, 2011

RICHMOND, Va. Consumers in Virginia will pay no state sales tax this weekend on certain clothing and school supplies.  The reprieve begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday (Aug. 5) and continues through midnight Sunday (Aug. 6). 


The tax-free holiday is one of three such weekends designated by the governor and the Virginia General Assembly.  Last May, consumers got a tax break on purchases of equipment related to hurricane emergency preparedness.  A third tax holiday comes in October on purchases of products meeting the Energy Star and WaterSense qualifications.


During this weekend’s sales-tax holiday, purchases of certain school supplies, clothing, and footwear are exempt of the Retail Sales and Use Tax.  The exempt items include: each school supply item with a selling price of $20 or less and each article of clothing or footwear with a selling price of $100 or less. 


To help consumers make the most of the sales tax holiday, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central Virginia offers the following tips:



Ø Plan ahead. Set a realistic budget and stick to it. Make a list of the items you need to purchase to avoid buying on impulse. Be sure to check with your child’s school for a list of required supplies to avoid return trips.

Ø Comparison shop, carefully. Tax holiday “sales” and promotions may not be the bargains they appear to be. Make sure you’re comparing “apples to apples” when looking at sales and promotions.

Ø Talk to the retailer. Before making your purchase, ask the merchant how refunds and exchanges will be handled after the sales tax holiday ends.

Ø Be aware of your surroundings. Because stores may be particularly busy during the sales tax holiday, pay extra attention to those around you. Never leave your wallet, purse or credit card on a counter. Don’t get overloaded with packages. Shop with a companion or ask for a security escort to your car.

Ø Shop at businesses you know to be trustworthy. Get a free BBB Business Review on a retailer you’re considering patronizing. Reviews are available at or by calling 804-648-0030.


The BBB in Central Virginia serves Richmond and Tri-Cities, as well as 42 surrounding counties, from Fauquier to Mecklenburg and Northumberland to Amherst. The nonprofit organization was established in 1954 to advance responsible, honest and ethical business practices and to promote customer confidence through self-regulation of business. Core services of the BBB include business reliability reports, dispute resolution, truth-in advertising, consumer and business education and charity review.