Tax hol­i­day be­gins Thurs­day at mid­night

Cloth­ing and shoes up to $100 free of sales tax

The Covington News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Doug Gross

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.

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