By Justin Reedy
A statewide sales tax holiday for school-related purchases got off to a momentous start in the Southern Crescent.
Gov. Sonny Perdue, who signed legislation earlier this year to continue the tax holiday after it was instituted last year, kicked off the event at the Gateway Computers store in Morrow. In recognition of the tax holiday, Perdue joined Gateway in donating a computer system to a foster family in Clayton County.
The holiday provides a tax break on computers, computer accessories, clothing and school supplies, and is timed to coincide with the start of the school year for many students in Georgia.
"As parents prepare their children for the upcoming school year, this tax-free holiday will provide families a deserved tax break on so many necessities that help our kids learn and perform well in the classroom," said Perdue.
The tax holiday is meant to stimulate retail sales around the state, officials say, as well as to minimize the financial impact on families who have children returning to school.
Jonesboro resident Troy Raines and his stepson J.T. Martin, a student at Jonesboro High School, were at the Gateway store taking advantage of the tax holiday on Thursday. They saved about $70 on sales tax when they purchased a desktop computer system that the family will use for general purposes but also for schoolwork.
"We've been kind of looking around to get a computer," Raines said. "They started talking about this tax-free day coming up, and we just jumped on it and took advantage of it."
Jonesboro resident Shirlene Fletcher, who is a teacher, had been planning for months to buy a computer, but decided to wait until the tax holiday so she could save money.
"It helps me save money," Fletcher said. "The computer will help me as an educator, because I'll use it at home for work-related stuff. The holiday also helps us as educators because it helps get kids prepared with school supplies at the beginning of the school year."
In addition to computers and computer accessories, shoppers are able to purchase clothing and school supplies during the holiday without paying sales tax.
At the Belk Department Store in McDonough, shoppers were already out taking advantage of that opportunity, according to store manager Debbie Slicker.
"It has been very busy this afternoon," she said on Thursday. "We expect Friday and Saturday to be tremendous. We're anticipating great sales."
The four-day tax holiday began at midnight early Thursday morning and lasts until midnight on Sunday. Last year, the event was split into two two-day tax holidays.
Officials say the state government will collect $14 to $16 million less in sales tax revenue during the holiday, which is up from the estimated $11 to $14 million saved by taxpayers last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.