Texans can officially open the back-to-school shopping season today, as the annual sales tax holiday opened at 12:01 a.m. and continues until midnight Sunday.

Items such as school supplies, clothing, shoes and backpacks priced at less than $100 are exempt for state and local sales taxes, but so are items that can be used for buyers of all ages.

“As summer turns to fall and Texas children get ready to head back into the classroom, the state’s sales tax holiday provides a great opportunity for families to get the supplies they need to help their children succeed in the upcoming school year,” Gov. Rick Perry said. “I encourage Texans to hit the stores this weekend and take advantage of this holiday as we gear up for another great school year in Texas.”

While shoes and clothing priced under $100 have been exempt from sales taxes during the holiday since its inception in 1999, HB 1801 in 2009 added a variety of school supplies to the exemption list. Those items range from pens and pencils to scissors and calculators.

Texas shoppers can save about $8 for every $100 they spend, and they are expected to save a total $64.8 million in state and local sales tax during this year’s holiday weekend, the governor’s office said. Texas shoppers have saved $626.9 million since the first tax-free holiday in 1999.

“Since 1999 shoppers have taken advantage of the sales tax holiday and saved money in their budgets,” Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said. “Families gearing up for the new school year do not have to worry about paying sales tax for many back-to-school items from clothing and shoes to school supplies this weekend.”

“The Texas sales tax holiday weekend has grown in popularity each year since its inception in 1999,” Ronnie Volkening, president and CEO of the Texas Retailers Association, said. “It presents a wonderful opportunity for parents to make sure their children are well-stocked with the supplies and clothing they need to start the school year on a positive note.“Additionally, Texas retailers are providing great bargains on popular items throughout their stores, providing even greater saving opportunities for Texas families this weekend.”

For more information about the sales tax holiday, or to view a list of tax exempt items, visit http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/taxpubs/tx98_490/tx98_490.html.