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What's Tax-Free This Weekend? Binders, Backpacks And Adult Diapers

Some of the stranger things on sale this weekend for the tax holiday in Texas: hunting vests, bowling shirts and baby diapers.

The annual tax free weekend has finally arrived! Of course calculators, pens and pencils are tax free, but so are hunting vests, bowling shirts and adult diapers. 

The Texas legislature established the sales tax holiday, in 1999. Back then, it was just for clothing and footwear.

“As the years have gone by, they’ve added other items as well, for example school backpacks and school supplies,” says R.J. DeSilva is a spokesperson for the Texas Comptroller’s office.

Today, you’ll find a hodgepodge of goodies. Here's the complete list. And here are a few tax-exempted items that you might be surprised to find on any back-to-school shopping list:

  • Adult diapers
  • Baby bibs
  • Baby diapers
  • Bowling shirts
  • Hunting vests
  • Scout uniforms
  • Children’s novelty costumes
  • Clerical vestments
  • Fishing vests (non-flotation)
  • Painter pants
  • Support hosiery
  • Suspenders

Liz Malm, an economist at the Tax Foundation in Washington, D.C., says what’s tax-exempt these days is, well, random.

“Bow ties and bowling shirts are exempt, but bathing caps and belt buckles aren’t,” she points out.

And even though tax holidays are popular, Malm says it may not be the best time to pick up your notebooks, or socks, or whatever it is you're hoping to get a bargain on.

“There’s a lot of academic research that shows that retailers might actually increase their prices on some items on that day so consumers may not actually be getting the savings they think they are.”

Still, state officials claim shoppers in Texas this weekend could save more than $70 million in state and local taxes. 

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.