(AP) - Buying school gear could come with some tax savings, if you're in one of the states offering temporary tax breaks on back-to-school purchases. But you've got to shop on the right dates and know the rules in each state.
Seventeen states have scheduled sales tax holidays on qualifying purchases during this year's back-to-school shopping season, according to CCH, which provides tax and accounting research.
The holidays are becoming more popular, as only nine states offered the tax breaks when CCH began tracking the figure in 2002.
This year, Mississippi kicked things off with a two-day holiday that began Friday. Most of the other states offering these tax breaks have set their holidays for Friday, Aug. 3 through Sunday, Aug. 5. Four others are later, running into mid- to late August.
Georgia discontinued its holiday in 2010, but has revived it this year. It's the only state to enact a new holiday this year.
Rules vary from state to state, but generally the breaks are limited to items such as clothing and school supplies. However, all states limit the amount that's exempt from the sales tax. For example, in Missouri the cap for computers and computer accessories is $3,500. Note that a local sales tax may still apply in some places.
The states offering breaks this year: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
For details on each state's tax holidays and when they take place, go to http://tinyurl.com/bvd69gr.
Shoppers buying back-to-school clothes and shoes may also benefit in New York. It doesn't offer a back-to-school tax holiday per se. However, effective in April of this year, New York doubled the ceiling on its year-round sales and use-tax exemption for clothing and footwear. The ceiling rose to $110 from $55.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)