Tax-free means back-to-school savings

AUSTIN (KXAN) – It’s practically a holiday weekend for shoppers across the state of Texas.

The tax-free tradition continues. Shoppers can save money on everything from pens, jeans and shoes to backpacks and other items during the state’s annual sales tax holiday.

The National Retail Federation expects the average American family to spend nearly $700 on clothes, supplies and other back-to-school gear. That’s up more than 14 percent from last year.

But for three days, shoppers will be able to save money on a long list of items under $100 that will be tax-free.

This year, shoppers will save an estimated $64.8 million in state and local sales taxes during the sales tax holiday.

Stores all around town are gearing up for the rush, including Barton Creek Square Mall — expecting a big shopping weekend. Store hours are extended to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and go from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Better Business Bureau officials said this is a great opportunity for families to save money. Still, they warn to be careful not to confuse back-to-school sales, which might include items that are not tax-exempt with the tax-free opportunity.

Meanwhile, the Austin Independent School District wants parents to take a look at school supply lists, available online.

The tax-exempt law includes items sold on the Internet, television or by mail. Lay-away plans can be used again this year to take advantage of the sales tax holiday.

The tax holiday weekend has been an annual event since 1999.