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Virginia: Tax Free Corsets and Clerical Vestments


 Exempt from sales tax during Virginia's August sales tax holiday.

The Virginia August Sales Tax Holiday is for school supplies and clothing. Since it takes place the first weekend of August, when many other states offer back-to-school sales tax holidays, and since it exempts school supplies, it is easily mistaken for a back-to-school sales tax holiday.

But it’s more than that. The Virginia Department of Taxation refers to it as a “School Supplies and Clothing Holiday.”

That’s a relief.

It’s a relief because the list of exempt clothing includes the following items:

  • Beach capes and coats;
  • Choir and alter clothing;
  • Clerical vestments;
  • Corsets and corset laces;
  • Formal wear (sold, not rented);
  • Fur coats and stoles;
  • Garters and garter belts;
  • Girdles;
  • Lingerie; and
  • Steel-toed shoes.

If it were only a back-to-school sales tax holiday, those of us who live in other states would find ourselves wondering just what schools in Virginia are like. Images of lady’s finishing schools come to mind (girdles, garters, furs and formal wear), along with private Catholic schools (clerical vestments, choir and alter clothing).

While we can imagine a school use for beach capes and coats (annual outings to the beach?), lingerie flummoxes and the steel-toed shoes make us cringe.

Tax free weekends are praised by some and decried by others. Economists note that tax free periods deprive states of needed sales tax revenue: in Virginia, the August sales tax holiday costs the state approximately $4 million. Yet in theory, they “boost the economy” and help lower income people purchase essential items, such as school supplies and clothes for their children.

In Virginia, the August tax free period is also a good time to stock up on corsets and mink stoles.

How does your business cope with sales tax holidays?

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photo credit: Andy Houghton via photopin cc


Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.