Clothing, computers, school supplies become tax-exempt during ‘holiday’ in Wisconsin

Shoppers in Wisconsin may see something missing from their receipts. From Wednesday through Sunday, many clothing items, computers and school supplies will be exempt from sales tax.

The five-day sales tax holiday is the result of a budget surplus in Wisconsin. For both businesses and shoppers, the holiday comes at a perfect time as many are ready for back-to-school shopping.

Christina Robertson traveled from Tomah with her family to shop for school supplies and new clothes.

“I have a daughter who’s going into middle school so she’s got to hit up the big stores,” said Robertson, as her children stopped at the play station in Valley View Mall.

She estimated she’ll spend well over $1,000 on her four children for everything they need.

“Between school supplies and clothes and shoes, sports, all that,” Robertson said.

With the start of the school year about a month away for many students, the sales tax holiday is coming off a slow time for many stores.

“Back-to-school and holiday time is our biggest time of the year so once August hits we’re busy all the time,” said April Skroch, manager of Apricot Lane Boutique in the mall.

And the tax break can help keep shoppers on this side of the border, instead of losing business to Minnesota, which doesn’t have sales tax on clothing.

“They don’t have to go across the river into Minnesota. They don’t have to drive an hour to one of our competing malls or anything like that. They’re right here. They can stay in their neighborhood,” said Laurie Cafe, marketing director of Valley View Mall.

To sweeten the deal, some stores are advertising sales on top of the holiday.

“If you spend $100, you get $40 fashion cash to come back and spend at the end of August,” Skroch said.

Sales tax is normally 5.5%, which may not mean much for some customers. But for others, the tax exemption plus a bargain equals serious savings.

“I hope it continues because, [for] people like me with big families, it’s a big plus. Any way we can save some money,” Robertson said.

The following clothing items are tax-exempt. The items must be worth $75 or less. The list is not all-inclusive:

· Aprons, household & shop · Athletic supporters · Baby clothes · Baby receiving blankets · Bathing suits & caps · Beach capes & coats · Belts & suspenders · Boots · Coats & jackets · Costumes, not including costume masks sold separately · Diapers, including disposables · Dresses · Earmuffs · Footlets · Formal wear · Garters & garter belts · Girdles · Gloves & mittens for general use · Hats & caps · Hosiery · Insoles for shoes · Jeans · Lab coats · Neckties · Overshoes · Pantyhose · Rainwear · Pants & rubber pants · Sandals · Scarves · Shirts · Shoes & shoe laces, not including athletic shoes with cleats or spikes · Shorts · Slippers · Sneakers · Socks & stockings · Steel toed shoes · Sweaters · Sweatshirts · Underwear · Uniforms, athletic & non-athletic · Wedding apparel

Computers including desktop computers, laptops and tablets for personal use must be $750 or less per item.

School computer supplies for personal use must be $250 or less per item. May include printers, computer storage media, printer supplies and handheld electronic schedulers.

School supplies worth $75 or less per item include:

Binders · Blackboard chalk · Book bags · Calculators · Cellophane tape · Compasses · Composition books · Crayons · Erasers · Folders · Glue, paste, & paste sticks · Highlighters · Index cards · Index card boxes · Legal pads · Loose-leaf ruled notebook paper, copy paper, graph paper, tracing paper, manila paper, colored paper, poster board, & construction paper · Lunch boxes · Markers · Notebooks · Pencils · Pencil boxes & other school supply boxes · Pencil sharpeners · Pens · Protractors · Rulers · Scissors · Writing tablets