MIAMI – The much-anticipated annual sales tax holiday is fast approaching and here are some tips to help shoppers navigate the weekend to their best financial advantage.

From Aug. 2- 4, all of Oklahoma will celebrate the sales tax holiday intended to coincide with back-to-school shopping.

Both consumers and retailers will benefit over the weekend with sales tax exempt shopping on general clothing items. Consumers save money while retailers usually see a boost in sales.

Shoppers can save even more time and money if they have a plan and understand the rules for the holiday. And shopping online is an option.

“We are participating and will have a bunch of stuff, including a bunch of clearance racks,” Novaleen Smith, manager at the Factory Connection in Miami, said. “We will also have jeans, buy one and get one half off. Hopefully we will have a good turnout. And we are hoping Missouri doesn’t knock us out. They are doing it the same weekend.”

It should be noted that there is a $100 cap on eligible merchandise, which means if an item is less than $100 it is sales tax exempt during the holiday, but items can be taxed if their individual costs exceed $100.

Most stores run sales in conjunction with the holiday so most merchandise will qualify. And, even better, you can use coupons and take advantage of buy-one, get-one sales in addition to the tax savings.

“We are doing clearance sales with 50% off whatever an item is marked,” Riley Thulin, an employee at Miami’s Shoe Sensation, said. “We will have a lot of different sales, including some shoes up to 70 percent off for back to school. We have all the name brands that Joplin has.

“We hope people will either come here or stay here that weekend.”

Beginning Friday, Aug. 2 at 12:01 a.m., the holiday extends through midnight on Sunday, Aug. 4.

All retailers that sell qualifying shoes and clothes will participate and retailers cannot collect state and local sales or use tax on tax-exempt items, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC).

“Eligible items sold to purchasers by mail, telephone, e-mail or Internet shall qualify for the sales tax exemption if the customer orders and pays for the item and the retailer accepts the order during the exemption period for immediate shipment, even if delivery is made after the exemption period,” according to the OTC.

If a purchase is exchanged for the same item in a different size or color, buyers won’t have to pay the tax, even after the sales tax holiday.

If an item is returned for credit or exchange for a different one after the tax-free weekend tax will be charged tax.

If an item is purchased before the tax-free weekend and returned during the sales tax holiday and receive credit on the purchase of a different eligible item, no sales tax is due on the sale of the new item, but be sure the store’s return and exchange policy is known in advance.

It should be noted, however, that certified public accountants advise that the sales tax holiday should not be used as a reason to go into credit card debt. Having to pay from 10 to 20% (or more) in interest monthly on purchases takes away the benefits of the holiday.