Friday begins Alabama's 17th annual Back to School Sales Tax Holiday.

The holiday allows retailers to sell specific items, such as school supplies, computers and clothing, without state sales tax.

Alabama is one of 18 states with similar sales tax holidays, according to the Alabama Retail Association (ARA).

The items eligible for an exemption are specifically defined. According to the Alabama Department of Revenue, some clothing items like belts, coats and pants are exempted from the state sales tax, but others, such as accessories, recreational gear and protective equipment are not.

In order to be exempt, an article of clothing must also be priced at less than $100 per item.

Computers, computer software and school computer supplies are eligible for an exemption as long as they are less than $750 and are not designed or intended primarily for recreational use. Video games of a non-educational nature are also not exempt.

All school supplies, school art supplies and school instructional materials below $50 per item and books below $30 per book are exempted. However, this does not include magazines, newspapers, periodicals or any other documents printed or offered for sale in a non-bound form. 

Every year, the tax holiday begins on the third Friday in July and ends at midnight the following Sunday. 

The Sales Tax Holiday pertains specifically to state sales tax. However, localities can choose to participate by exempting the purchase of the same items from local taxes.

According to the ARA, parents in Alabama can benefit from the sales tax holiday in the face of an approximately 9% inflation rate.

“The sales tax holiday offers parents a way to save on back-to-school needs,” said ARA President Rick Brown. “Saving money for consumers while stimulating sales for stores is what this weekend is all about.”

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