Residents of This State Can Buy School Supplies Tax-Free

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It’s a small dose of relief.

Key points

  • School supplies can be a big expense for many families.
  • This summer, NJ residents will get a tax break on school supplies for a limited time.

Although the 2021-2022 academic year is coming to an end in New Jersey, before we know it, it will be time to start making a budget for next year’s back-to-school supply list. Parents often spend a lot of money on back-to-school essentials, from notebooks and pencils to laptops for older students.

Last summer, parents may have had an easier time affording school supplies thanks to the boosted Child Tax Credit. Eligible households received monthly payments for the credit between the months of July and December 2021.

But this summer, those monthly payments won’t be hitting New Jersey residents’ bank accounts — or anyone’s bank accounts, for that matter. Though President Biden had initially hoped to keep the boosted Senate Child Tax Credit in place for 2022, the spending bill that allowed for that stalled out in the earlier this year.

Meanwhile, families all over the country are struggling in the absence of monthly Child Tax Credit payments now that inflation is running rampant and gas prices are through the roof. And that extends to New Jersey, where living costs are notably burdensome and property taxes are the highest in the nation.

But there is a bit of good news for New Jersey residents with kids. Governor Phil Murphy recently announced a sales tax break on back-to-school supplies that will take effect later this summer. And while that may not have a huge impact on the finances of those who are struggling immensely, every little bit helps.

A limited-time tax break

Parents in New Jersey commonly load up on school supplies during late August and early September. By then, classroom assignments are usually made available, which parents often need to wait for to know which specific items to purchase.

This year, all back-to-school supplies will be available to New Jersey consumers on a tax-free basis from Aug. 27 through Sept. 5. Those items run the gamut from pens to crayons to sports and recreational equipment.

Waiving the 6.625% sales tax on these items will cost New Jersey an estimated $75 million in revenue. But lawmakers feel that residents of the state need relief, and that throwing them a bone in this regard could make the back-to-school season more financially manageable.

A small amount of savings could help

It’s estimated that the average New Jersey family spends about $800 on back-to-school shopping. Based on that, the sales tax break on the table could save the average family $50. And for families with multiple children, the savings could be even more substantial.

Of course, for families that are already deep in debt due to inflation, $50 may only make a small dent. But for some, that could spell the difference between having to carry a credit card balance forward or pay it in full. And so this modest lifeline is something New Jersey residents ought to be happy about.

Furthermore, this sales tax holiday isn’t the only relief measure being introduced in New Jersey. The state is also offering property tax rebates to qualifying residents, and those, frankly, could do a lot more for residents’ finances than waiving sales tax on school supplies.

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