Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Virginia's sales tax holiday likely won't happen this weekend

Varying school supplies including crayons, pencils, glue sticks, highlighters and a pair of scissors are in a container.
Students, families and educators probably won't get a two-day-long tax break on buying supplies for the coming school year.

State budget negotiators may still bring it back — if they act quickly.

Every year since 2006, Virginia has waived the sales tax on certain back-to-school items and supplies during the first weekend in August. But this year’s sales tax holiday likely won’t happen since lawmakers failed to extend the provision that created it, leaving it to expire July 1 — though there’s still a chance.

In 2022, budget negotiators in the General Assembly extended the holiday that year after no lawmakers introduced bills during the general or special session to help continue it.

According to the official list of what was sales tax exempt published by Virginia Tax, the holiday helped offset the costs of qualifying school supplies, clothing and footwear for families. But it also helped offset the costs of hurricane preparedness items like portable generators, gas-powered chainsaws and chainsaw accessories.

It even offered the exemption for certain energy-saving products up to $2,500 before taxes. (And a list from 2017 included even more items.)

“There are many other things that I think lawmakers could concentrate on that would help people,” Jay Speer, executive director of the Virginia Poverty Law Center, told VPM News. “The Earned Income Tax Credit: That would help a lot more people, put a lot more money into people’s pockets that need it.”

The holiday was politically popular and likely provided some relief to residents, according to Speer. And state budget officials could reach the same negotiated renewal as last year’s sales tax–free weekend when they meet on Wednesday to discuss spending about $4 billion in surplus funds.

Virginia’s new fiscal year started July 1. Budget talks for the ‘skinny’ fiscal 2024 budget that has yet to pass broke down in late June.

Connor Scribner is a former VPM News assistant editor.