FILE - Retail sales tax cash register

Virginia’s annual three-day sales tax holiday, which exempts certain goods from being subject to the sales tax, will begin this weekend.

The holiday is meant to incentivize families to purchase back-to-school necessities for their children and to prepare for hurricane season.

“The annual sales tax holiday makes many important items more affordable for Virginians as they get ready for the new school year or stock up on basic supplies,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a news release. “I encourage families in every part of the Commonwealth to mark their calendars so they can take advantage of the savings this weekend, while also supporting the Virginia businesses in their communities.”

For back-to-school purchases, Virginia exempts qualified school supplies that cost $20 or less, including binders, markers, notebooks, pens, backpacks and textbooks, among other supplies. The commonwealth also exempts qualifying clothing that costs $100 or less, which includes shorts, skirts, sneakers, socks and underwear, among other things. It will not include accessory items, protective equipment or recreational equipment, such as briefcases, jewelry, hardhats, goggles or mouth guards.

To prepare for hurricane season, Virginia will exempt from the sales tax portable generators that cost $1,000 or less, gas-powered chainsaws that cost $350 or less, chainsaw accessories that cost $60 or less, and other qualified items that cost $60 or less. Some of the other qualified items include first aid kits, fire extinguishers, batteries and smoke detectors. Qualifying Watersense and Energy Star items that cost $2,500 or less also will be exempt.

The full list of exempted items is available on the Virginia Department of Taxation’s website.

“We want to remind all Virginians about the upcoming sales tax holiday because it only happens once each year,” Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne said in the news release. “This tax-free weekend benefits both consumers and retailers and provides a great opportunity to purchase necessary products without paying state and local sales tax.”

The holiday will begin at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Aug. 2,  and end at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4.

Although Virginia and other state governments argue that these sales tax exemptions are beneficial for the economy, the Tax Foundation released a study last week that found such policies are not that helpful to the economy. Rather, the study found that these policies will oftentimes shift the times of purchases and that long-term tax reform would be more beneficial.

Virginia is one of 16 states to hold a sales tax holiday this year.

Staff Writer

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Ohio for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.