At the start of the school year, New Jersey buyers were given a 10-day tax-free deferral on school supplies. What is less well known is that the law also covers a range of sports equipment such as bike helmets and even wetsuits.
Deliveries will be tax-free from Aug. 27 to Sept. 5, Gov. Phil Murphy said. The program will halt state sales tax at 6.625% during this period.
The tax exemption applies to computers selling less than $3,000, school art supplies, school computing supplies selling less than $1,000, school instructional materials, school supplies, and “sporting or recreational equipment sold to individual buyers for non-business use.”
The temporary tax break was announced in June but may have slipped parents’ radar during a family summer at the beach. Now it’s time to stack supplies in the shopping cart. The pause will be felt as inflation has not taken a vacation.
“Back-to-school tax exemptions have long been talked about, and with inflation being a key concern around kitchen tables for many of our residents, now is the time to do so,” Murphy said. “This program will reduce the cost of the essential items needed for educational success and help make New Jersey more affordable for our students and families.”
More specifically, Public Law 2022, Chapter 21 provides a sales tax exemption for certain retail sales of computers, school supplies, and sporting or recreational equipment when sold to an individual purchaser for non-business use. Sellers are reminded that they should not charge sales tax on eligible items when purchased during the tax exemption.
Retail sales of the following goods are exempt during the tax exemption period, according to the Treasury Department’s Tax Division on the state’s official website, nj.gov:
• Certain Computers – Computers with a retail price of less than $3,000.
• School Art Supplies – “Items commonly used by a student in an art course” includes clays and glazes, paints, art brushes, watercolors, and sketch and drawing pads.
• School Computer Accessories – Accessories must have a retail price of less than $1,000 and include: computer storage media, floppy disks, and CDs; electronic pocket planners (other than mobile phones); personal digital assistants (other than mobile phones); computer printers; printer paper and printer ink.
• School Instructional Materials – defined as ‘written materials commonly used by a student in a degree program as a reference for learning the subject being taught’. These include textbooks, reference books, workbooks, reference maps and globes.
• School Supplies – includes calculators, book bags, lunch boxes, binders, pens, markers, highlighters, crayons, pencils, sharpeners, erasers, scissors, chalkboards, composition books, exercise books, notepads, folders, rulers, tape, chalk, index cards and boxes, pencil cases , protractor, compass, glue and paste, and paper (loose-leaf notebook, copy, graphic, tracing, manila, color, construction, and poster board).
• Sporting or Recreational Equipment – These should be “worn in connection with any sporting or recreational activity that is not fit for general use”. Public law lists that it “includes but is not limited to” the following: bicycle and athletic helmets, life jackets and vests, goggles, gloves (baseball, bowling, boxing, hockey, and golf), mouth guards, shin guards, shoulder pads, Gloves or elbow pads, ski boots, athletic shoes (with cleats or spikes), waders, wetsuits and fins, ice skates (roller skates or ice), ballet and tap shoes.
The law does not require the buyer to be a student. It also states, “There is no limit to how many eligible items a single customer can purchase during the VAT holiday.”
A Frequently Asked Questions page is available at state.nj.us/treasury. -MRS