“It applies to select clothing and footwear. And one big thing to remember is that the item has to be less than 100 dollars — not 100 dollars — it has to be less than 100 dollars in order to qualify for the exemption,” Daniels explains. Accessories do not qualify for the sales tax exemption. “Things like jewelry, and the other thing is if it is something you wouldn’t wear normally in everyday life, then it doesn’t qualify. For example, athletic cleats, things like that that you wouldn’t just wear to school or work,” according to Daniels.
There are some items that people often mistakenly think are included. “Bookbags and backpacks — you know people think of it as back to school — but it really only includes clothing and footwear,” Daniels says. The event is often billed as the Sales Tax Weekend, but doesn’t last all weekend.
“By law it occurs on the first Friday and Saturday of August,” Daniels says. “People sometimes think ‘oh it’s the weekend’, but Sunday is not applicable.” Many stores offer discounts to go along with the sales tax holiday. Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Nikki Brevig says it is a key holiday for cities along the state’s border.
“Really it helps Iowa compete with the bordering states that don’t always have sale taxes on these items. And so, you get a great deal, you save your seven percent and you’re shopping locally for the items that you need for school,” Brevig says. Decorah is in northern Iowa near the Minnesota border and Minnesota does not charge sales tax on clothing items.
The complete listing of the items can be found at www.tax.iowa.gov. The tax holiday begins at 12:01 a-m Friday and runs through 11:59 p-m Saturday.
(Scott VanArtsen, KWIA, Sheldon; Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City; Darrin Svenson, KDEC, Decorah contributed to this story)