It’s tax-free weekend. We know you’ll be too busy making your list and checking it twice to scroll through the fine print, so we’ve gathered the basic facts you should know about tax-free weekend in Texas. Plus, we’ve rounded up the local shopping centers where you’ll get the most bang for your buck and for your time. Scroll down for all the Dallas-Fort Worth shopping malls offering giveaways and more fun things to do (at the centers’ special events, exhibits and kid-friendly attractions) during your shopping breaks.
Tax-free weekend is Friday, August 6, through Sunday, August 8, 2021.
Anyone making a physical purchase in the state of Texas is eligible for the exemption. Out-of-state shoppers can cash in on the joys of tax-free weekend if they make purchases within our borders.
Tax-free weekend is mandated by state law, so all retailers in Texas should provide exemption on the qualifying items. The law also applies to online shopping if the seller is “engaged in business in Texas”—that is, if the seller maintains some physical presence in Texas, not just an internet connection (visit the Texas Comptroller’s site for more information). If a store or retailer does not comply, or if you believe you have been charged incorrectly, there are steps you can take to receive a refund.
The exemption applies to items that are priced below $100, including shipping/delivery fees. This number refers to an individual item; for example, if the total cost of a group of items exceeds $100, but every item is priced below $100, then the exemption applies.
Clothing, footwear, backpacks and school supplies, and face masks (cloth and disposable fabric face masks that meet the definition of an article of clothing) are the broad categories that qualify for the exemption. Visit the Texas Comptroller’s site for a complete list of qualifying items.
A few things to note:
-Tax-exempted items include baby clothes, bras, sweaters, socks, shirts, pajamas, jackets, jeans and tights—but football pants, baseball gloves and ski suits are not included.
-You will save the tax on sneakers, cowboy boots, sandals and slippers, but have to pay on soccer cleats, ballet shoes and roller blades.
-Backpacks are exempt if they are intended for use by elementary and secondary students and are not defined as luggage, athletic gear or another specialized function. Rolling backpacks (as long as they can also be worn on the back) and messenger bags are tax-exempt, but computer bags and purses are taxable.
-Most school supplies are tax-exempt, though textbooks and computers are (sadly) not.
-And who knew that baby bibs, cloth and disposable diapers, costumes, graduation caps and gowns and prescription sunglasses were also tax-exempt?
The tax-free exemption does not apply to rental items except backpacks and school supplies. Layaway items qualify for exemption if the items are placed on layaway this weekend, or if the final payment is made on layaway items this weekend.
Where to Shop to Get Special Perks and Hours of Playtime
245 Cedar Sage Drive, Garland; 972/495-8085
After you’ve shopped at stores like Carter’s or The Children’s Place (just to name a few there), check out the recently opened HAPIK. This indoor-climbing-experience-meets-theme-park sports colorful and unique climbing structures with a special harness system to keep climbers safe. Plus, it’s the only one of its kind here in Texas. You’ll find it located next to Gloria’s Latin Cuisine. Pricing is $19 all-day access per climber (open to adults and kids as young as 3), or $150 punch card for 10 sessions of unlimited climbing.
13350 Dallas Parkway, Dallas; 972/702-7100
Not to mention the ice-skating rink, so much is happening right now at Galleria Dallas. The Children’s Play Place has reopened on Level 3, and the Showtime Saturdays event have returned too. Head up to Level 3 from 11:30am–noon to see a free clown show by circus pros Julio and Kelli Ramazini.
The interactive photograph exhibit POP! is still open on Level 1, next to Grand Lux Café, and debuting this weekend is a preview of the Van Gogh exhibition, opening October 17 at the Dallas Museum of Art, Van Gogh and the Olive Groves. Get a peek of the upcoming exhibit on Level 1, next to the Apple store, now through August 31. Kids will receive a special coloring page from the DMA when they sign up for PALS Kids Club.
8687 North Central Expressway, Dallas; 214/363-7441
Check out NorthPark’s back to school gift guide for clothes and gear by age group, including items from the new Burberry Childrenswear store, now open on level L between Neiman Marcus and Dillard’s.
They’ll be dressing for a successful year. If they need some inspiration imagining the bright future ahead, stop by the CenterPark Garden to experience the #IfThenSheCan, an exhibit of 3D-printed, life-size statues (in bright orange, no less) representing more than 120 role models and contemporary females professionals in STEM fields.
Also at NorthPark, store MCM is hosting its own Operation Backpack donation drive benefiting Volunteers of America. If you have an extra, unused backpack, drop it off at MCM now through August 15 and get 10% off any new MCM backpack.
6121 W. Park Blvd., Plano; 972/202-4900
When you spend $100 or more on back-to-school items, you’ll receive two free admission tickets to Crayola Experience Plano and be entered for a chance to win an annual pass. (There are three levels of annual passes; spending $100–$199 gets you in the raffle for the bronze annual pass, $200–$299 for the silver pass, and $300+ for the gold.) Read all the contest details online and come check out Crayola Experience during the extended summer hours, open daily from 10am to 6pm through August 15.
4800 S. Hulen St., Fort Worth; 817/294-1205
Positive self-talk goes a long way, so Hulen Mall (and Stonebriar Centre below) offers these pretty affirmation cards you can download from online, print out and tack up in a place where your child will see them regularly, be it on the fridge or their school locker.
2601 Preston Road, Frisco; 972/668-4900
Download the same affirmation cards from Stonebriar’s website, and when you spend at least $250 at Stonebriar stores between July 5 and August 21, you will earn a free back-to-school customization kit for decorating your own backpack. The kit is complete with fabric markers, stickers, buttons, scrunchie, note and a pencil case inside a reusable canvas tote bag. To receive the kit, be one of the first 100 people to redeem your receipts at Center Court on Saturday, August 21, from 11am–5pm.
3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway, Grapevine; 972/724-4900
Even when it’s not tax-free weekend, a special trip to this shopping center is always worth it thanks to these three kid-focused attractions: Peppa Pig World of Play, Legoland Discovery Center (which just debuted a new ninja-themed exhibit) and Sea Life Aquarium, located mere steps away from Legoland. Plus, bundles are available to experience all three in one day for $39.99.
2201 I-35E South, Denton; 940/566-6024
Earn a $20 gift card from Buckle or Barnes & Noble when you spend $100 or more with Golden Triangle Mall merchants. Available August 1–15 while supplies last. Bring your receipt to Guest Services in Center Court to claim your gift card.
305 W. FM 1382, Cedar Hill; 872/637-6300
Spend $150 in same-day receipts during tax-free weekend and be entered to win a $300 shopping spree at at Hillside Village. Take a pic of your same-day receipts totaling $150 or more and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org to be entered to win. Multiple entries are allowed, and two winners will be chosen at random on August 9.