New school year brings annual tax-free savings

Joslyn Colon, of Oxford, shops for uniforms at Custom Apparel with her son, Ezra, 5, who is going into kindergarten at The Villages Charter School.

Shoppers and businesses are gearing up for a statewide holiday. All sales tax and local option taxes will not be applied to orders for specific items listed by the Florida Department of Revenue from July 31 to Aug. 9. Items including footwear, clothing and some accessories marked for $60 or less will be tax-free, as will the first $1,000 of the price of computers and other electronics. Certain school supplies marked for $15 or less also will be tax-free. With the recent rainy weather, a tax-exempt raincoat, hat or poncho may be on some shoppers’ lists as everything from bras and dresses to coats and coveralls will qualify for exemption, as long as they are $60 or less. Even some sporting items, such as baseball cleats, are exempt, though athletic gloves and pads are not. The full list of items is located at

Custom Apparel, 3451 Wedgewood Lane in The Villages, has students covered when it comes to school uniforms.

The family-owned embroidery and apparel business specializes in high quality and is the primary partner in creating The Villages Charter School uniforms.

According to co-owner Shawn Carr, there’s “definitely a big increase” in foot traffic coming through the doors.

Carr explained plenty of preparations were in store for the holiday, with extra stock on the shelves and refills ready to go out on the floor.

Those looking for more than the basic uniforms can save money on school-spirit outwear as well.

Carr said the tax-free holiday offers a welcome boost for many area businesses while also allowing many parents to “save their pennies.”

Like many businesses, Custom Apparel is managing back-ordered items and shortages as part of the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Carr encouraged customers to “be patient” and rest assured that the business is doing its best to fulfill every order for the school year.

Brylah Fashions in Spanish Springs also provides a key resource for getting clothing for your students or yourself.

Christina Smith, owner of the store, explained that higher levels of foot traffic in the store mean it has to “double up the sales floor.”

“It’s an intense process to ensure product is stocked, perfect and clean and ready for sale those days,” Smith said.

Brylah Fashions offers plenty for students and parents to take full advantage of during the holiday, especially its quality leggings, shirts and dresses at affordable prices.

The boutique is ready to run a sale on items during the holiday, too, offering even more savings for its customers.

If you’re looking for traditional school supplies, local retailers will have plenty available for exemption status. Everything from pencils and composition books to binders, erasers and calculators will be tax-free.

Items must have a sale price of $15 or less to qualify for tax exemption.

The list of nonexempt items is far smaller than other listings, but items like printer paper, masking tape, computer paper and correction pens are off the list of supplies.

Local retailers like Target at Rolling Acres Plaza will have items like this on their shelves.

Coming out of semesters of online classrooms and virtual meetings, parents and shoppers will be delighted to know there are dozens more items to purchase.

Computers, including desktops, laptops and tablets, are tax-exempt, as are many components to those systems such as RAM, motherboards and nonrecreational software, like anti-virus, educational or word-processing applications.

Important devices for those computers like printers and printer cartridges also are tax-exempt. Local retailers like Best Buy in Lady Lake will have items available on the list.

Staff writer Garrett Shiflet can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5367, or