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June 23, 2022

New Jersey to lift sales tax on back-to-school supplies later this summer

Notebooks, pens, computers, art supplies and textbooks will be covered under the tax holiday

Government Taxes
NJ School Supplies Tax Holiday Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

New Jersey will waive it's sales tax on school supplies, including pens, pencils, notebooks art supplies and computers, from From Aug. 27 through Sept. 3 to make back-to-school shopping more affordable.

New Jersey will sell school supplies tax-free for 10 days at the end of the summer in an effort to make the back-to-school season more affordable for families, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday.

From Aug. 27 through Sept. 3, the state will waive its 6.625% sales tax on back-to-school items thanks to a $2 billion tax relief plan included in the state's fiscal budget. As prices on essential items continue to soar amid rising inflation, government officials at the local, state and federal levels have proposed tax holidays in order to provide some relief.

"Today we take a monumental step forward on my administration's commitment to make New Jersey a stronger, fairer and more affordable state for our residents," Murphy said. "A back-to-school tax holiday has been talked about for a long time, and as inflation is a central worry around many of our residents' kitchen tables, now is the time to do it."  

The items that will be sold tax-free include pens, pencils, notebooks and binders; paint, paintbrushes, clay and glazes; reference books, maps, globes, textbooks and workbooks; and computers, printers and digital assistants. 

The tax holiday will apply to both in-person and online sales. A Treasury spokesperson told that the state expects to forego $75 million in tax revenue as a result of the tax holiday. 

"Preparing for a new school year is a stressful time for New Jersey families, mentally, emotionally and economically," said Sen. Vin Gopal, a Democrat from Monmouth County. "By implementing this sales-tax holiday in the weeks before the first bell rings, we will be offering families a measure of relief from those stresses by helping them to fill their kids' back-to-school lists without breaking their household budgets." 

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 in advance of the school year, said Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, a Democrat from Gloucester County.

The back-to-school tax holiday is the latest in a series of relief measures proposed or enacted in New Jersey. They included a proposed bill that would expand property tax relief statewide.

Other proposals include a gas tax holiday — though President Joe Biden also has asked Congress to pass a federal gas tax holiday to provide relief at the pump for drivers around the country. 

Though officials said Wednesday the average family can expect to save between $50 to $100 on school supplies through the tax holiday, those in opposition to the plan called it a "gimmick" that does not provide "real relief" for families amid rising costs.

However, the tax holiday is not limited to families or students — or even New Jersey residents. Anyone who shops for those supplies in New Jersey during the 10-day tax holiday is eligible to save money via with the waived sales tax. 

Depending on its success and results at the end of the summer, officials said they may consider implementing it each year to support families as they go back-to-school shopping. 

Nationally, prices have risen by 8.6% over the last 12 months, with food and energy costs seeing the largest increases, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.