Tax holiday begins Thursday at midnight
Clothing and shoes up to $100 free of sales tax
ATLANTA — Georgia parents shopping for back-to-school outfits — along with anybody looking for new shoes, a new computer or some fancy lingerie — will get a break on the price this weekend.
Georgia’s annual sales tax holiday begins at midnight on Thursday.
Originally billed as a back-toschool treat for Georgia shoppers, clothing less than $100, books, computers and other items will sell without the state’s usual 4percent tax or local sales taxes through Sunday.
The annual tax holiday was started in 2002 as a way for Georgia retailers to keep customers from flocking to Florida, which already had a similar weekend.
“Teachers and parents often spend significant amounts of money in preparing for students to return to school,” said Gov. Sonny Perdue. “This break on sales taxes is just one small way that we can show our appreciation for all the work they do for our children.”
John Heavener, president of the Georgia Retail Association, said the weekend, started in 2002, has become the second-biggest sales boost of the year for Georgia stores — behind only Christmas.
“It’s really very important for the retailers and consumer both,” he said. “It’s pulled us out of the summer doldrums of just mediocre sales and gotten us into a strong period that’s carried us through to the holidays.”
During the weekend, clothing and shoes up to $100 will be exempt from taxes. Accessories like jewelry, handbags, eyeglasses and watches will not be exempt.
School supplies up to $20 will be exempt, as are personal computers and personal digital assistants up to $1,500.
State Sen. Tim Golden, a Democrat from Valdosta, originally sponsored the tax-free weekend in 2002, after he was approached by a store manager who said he was losing business in the border town to Florida stores, where a similar holiday already was in effect.
“When Florida had it before we did, he said you could go to the malls in Florida and you’d just see tons of Georgia tags there,” Golden said.
While the holiday is now wildly popular, Golden said it took him three years to push the plan through the Legislature.
“It took several years of some laughter from my colleagues who thought it was a gimmick,” he said. “Now, they realize that for retailers, it’s Christmas twice a year.”
Heavener said that, since 2002, Georgia has not seen a dip in tax revenues during the month of the tax-free weekends. He speculated that many shoppers end up spending money for items that aren’t exempt while shopping for ones that are.
This year, the Legislature approved a similar tax-free weekend for energy efficient items — from dishwashers and air conditioners to doors and windows.
Items that meet or exceed Energy Star requirements and cost less than $1,500 will get the tax break Oct. 4-7.