What you need to know to about Illinois sales tax holiday


CHICAGO, IL – Attention back-to-school shoppers! Illinois’ Sales Tax Holiday takes place August 5 -14.

During the ten day period Illinois will reduce the state sales tax on school supplies by 5%. Shoppers will only pay 1.25% plus the local sales tax. It’s all in an effort to provide some relief to families as record-high inflation bites many budgets.

(Image: Illinois Department of Revenue)

It’s important to note, not all “back-to-school” items qualify for the reduce sales tax and there are caveats when it comes to clothing and footwear too.

What schools supplies are included in the sales tax holiday

The state defines school supplies as “items used by a student in a course of study.” The items recognized by the state as “school supplies” include:

  • Binders
  • Book bags
  • Calculators
  • Cellophane tape
  • Blackboard chalk
  • Compasses
  • Composition books
  • Crayons
  • Erasers
  • Expandable pocket
  • Plastic, and manila folders
  • Glue, paste, and paste sticks
  • Highlighters
  • Index cards
  • Index card boxes
  • Legal pads
  • Lunch boxes
  • Markers
  • Notebooks and notebook paper (including loose leaf ruled notebook paper, copy paper, graph paper, tracing paper, manila paper, colored paper, poster board, and construction paper)
  • Pencils and pencil leads
  • Pens, ink and ink refills for pens
  • Pencil boxes and other school supply boxes
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Protractors
  • Rulers
  • Scissors
  • Writing tablets

What is not included in the sales tax holiday

The state says the reduced tax rate cannot be applied to the purchase of supplies that would be used by people other than students such as school art supplies, school instructional materials and school computer supplies. Items listed under those categories include:

“School Art Supply”:

  • Clay and glazes
  • Acrylic
  • Tempera, and oil paint
  • Paintbrushes for artwork
  • Sketch and drawing pads
  • Watercolors

“School Instructional Material”:

  • Reference books
  • Reference maps and globes
  • Textbooks
  • Workbooks

“School Computer Supply”:

  • Flash drives and other computer data storage devices
  • Data storage media (such as diskettes and compact disks)
  • Boxes and cases for disk storage
  • External ports or drives
  • Computer cases
  • Computer cables
  • Computer printers
  • Printer cartridges, toner, Ink

What clothing and footwear is included in the sales tax holiday

Only qualifying clothing and footwear with a retail selling price of less than $125 can get the discounted tax.

The below items are considered “clothing” by the state:

  • Household and shop aprons
  • Athletic supporters
  • Bathing suits and caps
  • Belts and suspenders
  • Boots
  • Coats and jackets
  • Earmuffs
  • Footlets
  • Gloves and mittens
  • Hats and caps
  • Hosiery
  • Insoles for shoes
  • Lab coats
  • Neckties
  • Overshoes
  • Pantyhose
  • Rainwear
  • Rubber pants
  • Sandals
  • Scarves
  • Shoes and shoelaces
  • Slippers
  • Sneakers
  • Socks and stockings
  • Steel-toed shoes
  • Underwear
  • School uniform

What clothing and footwear is *NOT* included in the sales tax holiday

“Clothing” does not include sport or recreational equipment, protective equipment or clothing accessories. The state has the following items listed under those categories:

“Sport or Recreational Equipment“:

  • Ballet and tap shoes
  • Cleated or spiked athletic shoes
  • Gloves, including, but not limited to, baseball, bowling, boxing, hockey, and golf gloves
  • Goggles
  • Hand and elbow guards
  • Life preservers and vests
  • Mouth guards
  • Roller and ice skates
  • Shin guards
  • Shoulder pads
  • Ski boots
  • Waders
  • Wetsuits and fins

“Protective Equipment”:

  • Breathing masks
  • Clean room apparel and equipment
  • Ear and hearing protectors
  • Face shields
  • Hard hats
  • Helmets
  • Paint or dust respirators
  • Protective gloves
  • Safety glasses and goggles
  • Safety belts
  • Tool belts
  • Welder’s gloves and masks

“Clothing Accessories”:

  • Briefcases
  • Cosmetics
  • Hair notions, including, but not limited to barrettes, hair bows, and hair nets
  • Handbags
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Jewelry
  • Non-prescription sunglasses
  • Umbrellas
  • Wallets
  • Watches
  • Wigs and hair pieces

Important things to remember

Let’s say you have a mix of qualifying and non-qualifying items in your purchase. The state says the reduced sales tax can be applied to your total purchase, but only if the value of the qualifying items exceeds the value of the non-qualifying items. Each qualifying clothing item must still adhere to the $125 or less limit too.

Also, any qualifying items purchased with a rain check issued prior to the sales tax holiday can receive the reduced sales tax, however rain checks issued during the sales tax holiday are reportedly not eligible because they would be purchased after the holiday ended.

You can go to the Illinois Department of Revenue for more information.

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