What You Need to Know About Illinois Sales Tax Exemption

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CHICAGO, IL – Attention back-to-school shoppers! The Illinois sales tax holiday is August 5-14.

During the ten-day period, Illinois will reduce state sales tax on school supplies by 5%. Buyers will only pay 1.25% plus local sales tax. All this in order to relieve families while record inflation is biting many budgets.

(Image: Illinois Department of Revenue)

It is important to note that not all “back to school” items are eligible for the sales tax reduction and there are caveats for clothing and footwear as well.

What school supplies are included in the sales tax exemption

The state defines school supplies as “items used by a student as part of a program of study.” Items recognized by the state as “school supplies” include:

  • binders
  • Book bags
  • Calculators
  • Tape
  • Blackboard chalk
  • Compass
  • Composition notebooks
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Expandable pocket
  • Plastic and manila liners
  • Glue, glue and glue sticks
  • Highlighters
  • Sheets
  • Card boxes
  • Legal blocks
  • Lunch boxes
  • Markers
  • Notebooks and notebook paper (including lined loose-leaf notebook paper, copy paper, graph paper, tracing paper, manila paper, colored paper, poster board, and construction paper)
  • Pencils and pencil leads
  • Pens, ink and ink refills for pens
  • Pencil boxes and other school supply boxes
  • Sharpener
  • Rapporteurs
  • Rules
  • Scissors
  • Writing tablets

What is not included in the sales tax holiday

The state says the reduced tax rate cannot be applied to the purchase of supplies that would be used by people other than students, such as school art supplies, school teaching materials, and school computer supplies. Items listed in these categories include:

“School Art Supply”:

  • Clay and glazes
  • Acrylic
  • Tempera and oil paint
  • Artwork Brushes
  • Sketching and drawing blocks
  • Watercolors

“School teaching materials”:

  • Reference books
  • Reference maps and globes
  • Textbooks
  • Notebooks

“School computer supplies”:

  • USB drives and other computer data storage devices
  • Data storage media (such as floppy disks and compact discs)
  • Boxes and cases for disc storage
  • External ports or drives
  • Computer cases
  • Computer cables
  • computer printers
  • Printer cartridges, toner, ink

What clothes and shoes are included in the sales tax exemption

Only eligible clothing and footwear with a retail price of less than $125 can benefit from the reduced tax.

The items below are considered “clothing” by the state:

  • Household and shop aprons
  • sports fans
  • Swimwear and caps
  • Belts and braces
  • Boots
  • Coats and jackets
  • Earmuffs
  • Feet
  • Gloves and mittens
  • Hats and caps
  • Hosiery
  • Soles for shoes
  • Lab coats
  • Ties
  • shoe covers
  • Tights
  • Rainwear
  • rubber pants
  • Sandals
  • Scarves
  • Shoes and laces
  • slippers
  • Sneakers
  • Socks and stockings
  • Steel Toe Shoes
  • Underwear
  • School uniform

What clothes and shoes are *NOT* included in the sales tax exemption

“Clothing” does not include athletic or recreational equipment, protective equipment or clothing accessories. The state has the following listed in these categories:

“Sports or leisure equipment“:

  • Ballet and tap shoes
  • Sports shoes with cleats or spikes
  • Gloves, including but not limited to baseball, bowling, boxing, hockey and golf gloves
  • Protective glasses
  • Hand and elbow guards
  • Life jackets and vests
  • mouth guard
  • Roller and ice skates
  • Shin pads
  • shoulder pads
  • Skiing boots
  • thigh high boots
  • Wetsuits and fins

“Protective Equipment”:

  • Breathing masks
  • Cleanroom clothing and equipment
  • Ear and hearing protectors
  • Face shields
  • Helmets
  • Helmets
  • Paint or dust respirators
  • Protective gloves
  • Safety glasses and goggles
  • Seatbelt
  • Tool belts
  • Welding gloves and masks

“Clothing & Accessories”:

  • Briefcase
  • Beauty products
  • Hair notions including but not limited to barrettes, hair bows and hair nets
  • Hand bags
  • handkerchiefs
  • Jewelry
  • Non-prescription sunglasses
  • Umbrellas
  • Wallets
  • Watches
  • Wigs and hairpieces

Important things to remember

Suppose you have a mix of eligible and non-eligible items in your purchase. The state indicates that reduced sales tax may be applied to your total purchase, but only if the value of qualifying items exceeds the value of ineligible items. Each qualifying item of clothing must also meet the limit of $125 or less.

Additionally, all eligible items purchased with a rain check issued prior to the sales tax holiday may qualify for the reduced sales tax, but rain checks issued during the sales tax holiday would not be eligible because they would be purchased after the end of the holiday.

You can contact the Illinois Department of Revenue for more information.

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