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August 25, 2023

New Jersey to waive sales tax on school supplies through Labor Day

From Aug. 26 to Sept. 4, the 6.6% fee will not apply to online or in-person purchases of classroom items

Government Taxes
Sales Tax Holiday NJ Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

From Aug. 26 to Sept. 4, New Jersey will waive its sales tax on school supplies.

New Jersey will sell school supplies tax-free over the next 10 days in an effort to make the back-to-school season more affordable for teachers and families, officials from the state's Department of the Treasury said. 

From Saturday, Aug. 26 through Monday, Sept. 4, the state will waive its 6.625% sales tax on school items as they were included in New Jersey's most recent budget, signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy in June. The sales tax holiday applies to both in-store and online purchases, and there is no limit on how many items can be purchased at one time.

"Back-to-school excitement can easily turn to stress for both parents and teachers, particularly those who are struggling to make ends meet," said Gov. Murphy. "We're committed to making New Jersey more affordable in ways both big and small. I encourage every family to take advantage of the sales tax holiday over the next two weeks to help ease some of the pressure when it comes to purchasing essential items for the new school year." 

A full list of items that will be sold tax-free can be found on this public notice from the state's Division of Taxation. Qualifying school supplies include computers under $3,000, "computer supplies" under $1,000 (data storage devices and printers, for example), art supplies, workbooks, textbooks, reference books, globes, backpacks, notebooks, writing utensils, calculators, protractors, compasses and lunch boxes. Recreational equipment, including dance shoes, goggles, skates, sports gloves and helmets, are also included. 

The initiative was first implemented last summer amid rising inflation, which has since cooled significantlyThe 10-day tax holiday is expected to cost $32.7 million; last year, the cost was $32.3 million, the New Jersey Monitor reported.

The average family pays upwards of $250 on school supplies each year, while teachers pay up to $600 out of their own pockets on classroom supplies before school starts, according to Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, a Democrat representing Gloucester County. The average New Jersey family is expected to save between $30 and $50 during this year's tax holiday, reported.

"This tax holiday for school products may not make kids look forward to returning to school more, but it certainly will make parents happier when shopping for the supplies they need to get their children for the new school year," said Senate President Nick Scutari. "This will help make the back-to-school experience more affordable for New Jersey's families and educators at a time they need the savings." 

Earlier this month, tax experts criticized sales tax holidays, estimating that they could cost 19 states up to $1.6 billion in lost revenue this year. The Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy argues that sales tax holidays are poorly targeted and too temporary to make a lasting impact on people's finances.

Last year, Republican critics in the New Jersey legislature argued that the state should provide year-round tax relief on school items, NJ Spotlight News reported.