Residents looking for a break in back-to-school shopping will find it this weekend, when Missouri hosts its annual tax holiday.

The state's portion of the tax — 4.225 percent — will be exempt Friday through Sunday on purchases such as clothing, school supplies and computers.

POST-DISPATCH'S back-to-school guide to fashion, educational apps, and supplies to make school fun

Some local governments are waiving their local sales taxes as well. So, the discount could be bigger depending on the store’s location.

For instance, a shopper would pay no sales taxes in Chesterfield, where the city is waiving its taxes. But they’ll still pay 1.5 percent in Richmond Heights, home of St. Louis Galleria, and 2.5 percent in that town’s Transportation Development District.

The sales tax exemption will be applied to:

• Clothing items with a value of $100 or less, including footwear but excluding watches, watchbands, jewelry, handbags, handkerchiefs, umbrellas, scarves, ties, headbands and belt buckles.

• School supplies, not to exceed $50 per purchase, including textbooks, notebooks, paper, writing instruments, crayons, art supplies, rulers, book bags, backpacks, handheld calculators, chalk, maps and globes.

• Computer software with a taxable value of $350 or less.

• Personal computers, not to exceed $3,500, and computer peripheral devices, not to exceed $3,500. This includes laptop, desktop or tower computer systems and devices designed for use in conjunction with a personal computer, such as a disk drive, memory module, compact disk drive, daughterboard, digitalizer, microphone, modem, motherboard, mouse, multimedia speaker, printer, scanner, single-user hardware, single-user operating system, sound card or video card.

Illinois tried a sales tax holiday in 2010 but hasn’t declared one since.

Missouri cities that will still charge local sales taxes include Clayton, Fenton, Ladue, Kirkwood, Manchester, Maplewood, Overland, Pevely, Richmond Heights, Rock Hill, Shrewsbury, St. Ann, St. Peters, Town and Country, University City, Warson Woods and Webster Groves. Many transportation development districts will also still charge.

St. Louis city and St. Louis, St. Charles, Lincoln and Jefferson counties won’t be charging county sales taxes.

Sales tax holidays are controversial. Backers, including the retail industry, view them as a way to give hard-pressed parents a price break as they prepare for school. By cutting costs, the holidays let parents buy more for their children. The holidays can lure shoppers across state lines, and the extra sales help create retail jobs, the backers say.

Others consider tax holidays a boondoggle that benefits mainly store owners. Retailers don’t have to hold sales to attract shoppers, because the state is doing it for them, and the publicity brings in customers, critics say.

“The mad customer rush” actually allows retailers to raise prices, argued the conservative Tax Foundation in a report on tax holidays in 16 states in 2014. 

Jim Gallagher of the Post-Dispatch and Emily Younker of the Joplin Globe produced this report.

Jim Gallagher • 314-340-8390