Puerto Rico 2023 back-to-school sales tax holiday

There are usually two back-to-school sales tax holidays in Puerto Rico each year. They correspond to the school year, which is typically divided into two semesters — one running from early August into mid-December, another running January into May. The first tax-free weekend takes place in January, and the second in July.

For 2023, the summer tax-free weekend starts at midnight July 14 and ends at 11:59 p.m. July 15.

The temporary clothing exemption is narrow when compared with other back-to-school sales tax holidays in the United States. It’s common for states to exempt most articles of clothing and footwear under a certain price point, along with a variety of school supplies. Many states also exempt computers or computer supplies.

The Puerto Rico back-to-school sales tax holiday applies solely to specified school uniforms and school materials.  

What clothing qualifies for the Puerto Rico back-to-school tax-free holiday?

Per the Departamento de Hacienda Gobierno de Puerto Rico, the tax authority, a school uniform means clothing specifically required by the educational institution to be used by its students. This includes clothing and footwear that “complement one or more pieces of the uniform, as specifically required by the educational entity.”  

A school uniform cannot be worn for general or continued use outside of school to replace ordinary clothing. Moreover, a school uniform does not include:

  • Strap buckles sold separately
  • Costume masks sold separately
  • Patches and emblems sold separately, except as part of a school uniform
  • Sewing supplies and equipment (e.g., patterns, pins, sewing needles, tape measures)
  • Sewing materials that are or become part of clothing (e.g., buttons, fabric, zipper closures)
  • Clothing accessories or equipment (e.g., barrettes, handbags, umbrellas, watches, and hairpieces) 
  • Protective equipment 
  • Sports and recreational equipment

What school supplies qualify for the Puerto Rico back-to-school tax-free holiday?

The temporary exemption also applies to retail sales of school supplies, school art supplies, school music supplies, instructional school supplies, and computer storage media.

School supplies are items commonly used by a student in a course of study. These are:

  • Adhesive tape
  • Calculators
  • Chalk
  • Crayons, highlighters, markers, pencils, pens, erasers, and pencil sharpeners
  • Compasses
  • Folders
  • Glue and glue sticks
  • Index cards
  • Lunch boxes
  • Paper
  • Pencil boxes, other boxes of school supplies, and boxes to store poster cards 
  • Protractors, rulers, scissors
  • School bags

The following school art supplies, music supplies, and instructional materials are also exempt:

  • Brushes for artwork
  • Clay and enamels
  • Drawing books and sketchbooks 
  • Paints, including acrylic, oil, tempera, and watercolors
  • Musical instruments
  • Maps and reference globes

Are textbooks and notebooks exempt from Puerto Rico sales tax?

The back-to-school sales tax holiday doesn’t apply to retail sales or rentals of books, which are exempt from Puerto Rico sales tax throughout the year. The year-round sales and use tax exemption applies to electronic books as well as printed books, but not to magazines or newspapers.

Notebooks purchased at retail are also exempt from Puerto Rico sales and use tax (impuesto a las ventas y uso, or IVU, in Spanish).

Does the sales tax holiday apply to online sales?

Sales tax holidays typically apply to qualifying items purchased online during the tax-free weekend, and that’s the case with the Puerto Rico sales tax holiday. 

An eligible item purchased by email, internet, mail, or phone will qualify for the sales and use tax exemption when the item “is paid for and delivered to the buyer during the exemption period,” or when title passes to the buyer and the item is delivered to the buyer during the sales tax holiday. 

According to the Departamento de Hacienda, items that are pre-ordered and delivered to the buyer during the exemption period qualify for the temporary sales and use tax exemption. You can find additional information in Internal Revenue Circular Letter No. 23-11.

 

Puerto Rico has one of the first back-to-school tax-free weekends this year, but it certainly won’t be the last. There’s lots of information about upcoming sales tax holidays in our blogs, State back-to-school tax-free weekends and sales tax holidays for 2023 and 2023 sales tax holidays.

Does keeping up with sales tax holidays get you down? Learn how automating sales tax compliance can help. 

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