What You Need to Know :: Making the Most of Tax Free Weekend in Columbia


Many parents mark their calendars for tax free weekend because it’s the one time of year businesses – small and large alike – offer great sales ALONG with NO sales tax here in SC. And with school right around the corner, it’s a great time to stock up on the supplies you need! 

But the list of eligible items goes beyond backpacks, pens, and laptops. It extends to the college-age crowd for bed linens, bath towels, and much more! For the full list of exempt items, visit the South Carolina Department of Revenue.

The tax-free weekend begins 12:01 a.m. August 6 to midnight August 8 … so grab your list, check it twice, and get to shopping! 

Shopping In-Store or Online

Shopping in-store: Our bordering states, NC and GA no longer offering tax free weekends, so there could be additional crowds as they descend on the area to take advantage of some great deals! If you choose to shop in stores:

  • Check to see if there is a mask ordinance or other guidelines for your community
  • Consider curbside delivery if available
  • Practice social distancing and other guidelines recommended by the CDC and SCDHEC to help protect yourself and others from COVID-19

Shopping online: As long as the item is ordered and paid for, and the order is accepted by the retailer during the weekend for immediate shipment, the exemption still applies, even if delivery is made after the holiday ends. If an item qualifies for exemption, the delivery charges associated with that item are also exempt.

Which Items are Tax Free?

Broadly, exempt items include:

The exemption does not apply to:

  • items for use in a trade or business
  • items placed on layaway or a similar deferred payment and delivery plan
  • clothing and footwear rentals
  • cosmetics
  • eyewear
  • furniture
  • jewelry
  • cell phones, smartphones, or other handheld devices that make phone calls
  • handheld devices that are primarily used to download and listen to music, download and watch videos, or download and read books

What Counts as a School Supply?

School supplies are items used in the classroom or at home for school assignments. Items such as refrigerators and toiletries purchased by college students are not used for school assignments and are not exempt. Similarly, these items purchased for office, business, or non-school use are not exempt. 

School supplies include, but are not limited to:

  • pens
  • pencils
  • paper
  • binders
  • notebooks
  • books
  • bookbags
  • lunchboxes
  • calculators
  • school uniforms
  • sport uniforms
  • art supplies 
  • musical instruments 

What Kinds of Computer Accessories are Eligible?

Since the law includes computers but not computer supplies as eligible, a computer monitor, keyboard, or mouse sold by itself is taxable during the holiday period. These items are only exempt if they are used for school assignments and can be considered a school supply, or if they are purchased in a package with the computer itself. Digital music players, digital cameras and cell phones or smartphones are not exempt regardless of whether they are purchased with a computer.

Which Retailers Participate?

All retailers who sell eligible items participate in the Sales Tax Holiday and may not collect Sales Tax from their customers on eligible purchases. This includes online sales made by out-of-state retailers and marketplace facilitators.

Shop Local

Tax free weekend is a fantastic time to support local businesses and our economy. Education Wonderland is a small business geared towards everything classroom from bulletin board décor to educational games and school supplies. Looking to stock up on your child’s wardrobe? POSHture Boutique is a fantastic option for unique kids’ clothing and accessories! 

Consider Less Crowded Shopping Spots

Don’t just get sucked into the same places that everyone else will be at (HINT: Columbiana Centre, although that’s a great place, too). Check out Five Points Shopping for a bit of eclectic flair. Also, Trenholm Plaza is a great option for a bite out and shopping! 

What will you be shopping for on the Tax Free Holiday?  

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Tiffany traded in back-to-back business meetings and PowerPoint presentations, for sippy cups and play dates – leaving her corporate job behind to become a stay at home mom to her 16-month-old toddler. To say life is different is an understatement, and she now has a new found love and respect for the “hardest” (and best!) job she’s ever had. A native South Carolinian, Tiffany is best described as kind-hearted and friendly, with a quick sense of humor. When she’s not toting her little one around town to the latest kid friendly activity, you can find her enjoying a latte at Drip, catching up on the latest celebrity gossip magazines, or watching old reruns of Beverly Hills 90210 from the early 90′s. She received her Masters Degree in Integrated Communications from the University of South Carolina in 2007, and enjoys reading, writing and all things "mom."


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