Illinois is reducing sales tax on school supplies for the next 10 days

A classroom closet that has gray and yellow walls. Colorful backpacks hang in open lockers/
Illinois is reducing sales tax on school supplies from Aug. 5-14. (Hannah Beier for Chalkbeat)

For the first time in more than a decade, Illinois families and educators can save money on many back-to-school school supplies during the state’s tax holiday Aug. 5-14. 

Beginning Friday, the state sales tax on school supplies and other school-related items will drop from 6.25% to 1.25%. 

The “Back to School” tax holiday was included in a $1.8 billion tax relief bill proposed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker late in the spring legislative session, and approved by the general assembly. The tax relief comes at a time when inflation is at a historic high of 9.1% and has caused significant increases in prices for gas, groceries, and utilities. 

“Our parents shouldn’t have to choose between buying essential school supplies for their children and putting food on the kitchen table,” said Pritzker in a press release Thursday. “Our teachers shouldn’t have to break the bank to do right by the students that they nurture day in and day out.” 

The state claims that during the 10-day tax holiday, Illinois families could save up to $50 million on school supplies. 

Here are some of the items that qualify for the reduced sales tax: 

  • School uniforms
  • Coats
  • Sneakers
  • Book bags
  • Calculators

Unfortunately, certain items are excluded, including: 

  • Computer accessories
  • Masks
  • Sports or recreational equipment like gloves or mouth guards
  • Art supplies like paint and watercolors

Items over $125 are also excluded. 

Though anyone can purchase these items during the tax holiday, teachers will find a lot to stock up on, including blackboard chalk, binders, index cards, and notebooks. During tax time next year, teachers will receive an income tax credit of up to $250 for school supplies they purchased for their classrooms. 

While this may be the first back-to-school tax holiday for Illinoisians since 2010, many states around the country do it annually. Florida’s tax holiday started July 25 and ends Aug. 7. It includes a discount on clothing, footwear, school supplies, children’s books, and technology. New Jersey’s tax holiday will take place Aug. 27-Sept. 5, and covers school supplies, technology, and athletic gear.

Samantha Smylie is the state education reporter for Chalkbeat Chicago, covering school districts across the state, legislation, special education, and the state board of education. Contact Samantha at ssmylie@chalkbeat.org.

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