For a particular brand of savvy shopper, statewide tax-free weekends are the best holiday of the summer.

Seventeen states are participating in tax-free initiatives this year, down just one from 18 in 2010 (Illinois decided to sit this year out, West Virginia’s three-year ENERGY STAR® tax holiday ended, and Arkansas joined the initiative). While these weekends are generally meant for families stocking up on back-to-school clothes and supplies for their kids, some states extend these benefits to a wider array for items. For instance, South Carolina allows the tax-free purchase of computer items, and Louisiana offers breaks on firearms, ammunition and other hunting supplies.

In addition to helping parents with their back-to-school shopping lists, states often find offering consumers tax breaks benefits the overall economy. For instance, Florida’s 2010 tax-free weekend saw a $115 million increase in sales compared to the same weekend in 2009, along with a 12.4% rise in sales of non-tax-exempt items. All signs point to retailers seeing similar benefits in 2011. A number of states recently had their tax-free weekends and appear happy with the results.

You can find a complete list of participating states–including those who haven’t had their 2011 tax-free holidays yet—at the Federation of Tax Administrators website.

Did you take advantage of a tax-free weekend in your state this year? Are there other items you’d like to see included in these holidays?