Commentary: CT tax-free week is almost here — and it should be expanded

State Sen. Kevin Kelly
State Sen. Kevin Kelly

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — back to school and tax-free shopping. Parents everywhere rejoice!

From Sunday, Aug. 17 through Saturday, Aug. 23, Connecticut will host its annual tax-free shopping week. That means no sales tax on most clothing and footwear under $300 per item.

This includes socks, jackets, coats, dresses, pants, shirts, sleepwear, shoelaces, sneakers, swimsuits, hats, gloves, and plenty more.

By law, tax-free week runs from the third Sunday in August to the following Saturday every year. Tax-free week was first enacted in 2000, and applies to most clothing and footwear purchases intended for everyday use.

Not all items fall under the tax free program. For example, clothing and shoes for sporting activities are not included, so no deal on ballet shoes, cleats or helmets. Accessories such as jewelry, watches, handbags and wallets are also not included.

Expand items that are covered

While I always welcome tax-free week, I also wish this tax exemption could apply all the time, and could apply to more items.

For example, backpacks, books, office supplies, computers and dorm furniture don’t fit into the tax-free category, even though these are also significant back-to-school expenses.

Connecticut is also waiting to see our sales tax exemption on clothing and shoes under $50 reinstated. In 2011, that exemption was eliminated.

I’ve pushed for budgets that would have immediately restored the exemption and removed that sales tax, but the majority has delayed the exemption until July 1, 2015. So, we continue to wait.

‘A great opportunity for families’

Tax-free week is a great opportunity for families, but it can also be improved and expanded. If you have ideas for improving tax-free week, or if you would like to see specific items added to the tax-free items list please share your thoughts with me.

I do believe that any relief for taxpayers is welcome relief in our state, and I am always happy to support legislation that advocates for tax breaks for my constituents.

For a full list of items covered and not covered under tax-free week, visit the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services website at:

State Sen. Kevin Kelly represents the 21st Senatorial District, which includes all of Shelton as well as parts of Monroe, Seymour and Stratford. He can be reached at 800-842-1421 or Kelly is a Republican in his second term.