Sales tax holiday starts Thursday

By Ed Brock

Neontra Ward of Jonesboro has her shopping list ready for this year's sales tax holiday.

"I need clothes, shoes, school supplies," said the 14-year-old who will be entering the 9th grade at Riverdale High School this year.

Her mother, Rose Ward, said she likes the sales tax holiday, during which parents and students can shop for clothes, computers and school supplies without paying the state sales tax.

"It saves a lot of money," Ward said.

This year the tax holiday will begin on Thursday and continue until Aug. 1. The holiday was previously a three-day period that brought in an extra $700,000 for the CompUSA store on Mt. Zion Road in Morrow, Retail Sales Manager Brian Sievers said.

"This year with four days it's going to go up even higher," Sievers said. "It has been very good for business."

Sievers said the store has been stocking up, building a wall of new desktop and laptop computers in preparation. They usually keep an inventory of $2 to $3 million.

"We'll be up to $4 million in inventory by this weekend leading up to the sale," Sievers said on Thursday.

Created three years ago to provide an economic stimulus and provide tax relief for Georgians, the Georgia Department of Revenue has not done any estimates on the economic impact of the tax holiday, GDR spokesman Charles Willey said.

"The intent is to get the people out to the stores and increase traffic there. In that regard it's been very successful," Willey said.

During the holiday articles of clothing and footwear costing $100 or less per item qualify for the exemption, including sporting goods like baseball cleats and knee pads and formal wear such as tuxedo.

Accessories like handbags, umbrellas, fanny packs, and shoelaces are not tax exempt.

As for computers, hardware like monitors, motherboards, keyboards and hard drives are exempt for up to $1,500 per transaction. Action games, cell phones, joysticks and MP3 players are not exempt.

Just about every kind of school supplies costing $20 or less from rulers to backpacks are exempt, but books (except for children's books, dictionaries and thesauruses), briefcases, envelopes, janitorial and medical supplies and supplies used in a trade or business are not.

"This year's tax-free items list is a carbon copy of last year's list," said Georgia Revenue Commissioner Bart L. Graham in a statement. "And like previous years, there are some limitations and special features that shoppers need to understand."

For a complete list of the exempt and non-exempt items, go to the GRS Web site, www.gatax.org.

Of the 58 stores at Tanger Outlet in Locust Grove, many of them sell items that qualify for the exemption, said Linda Ginn, customer relations specialist for the outlet. The tax holiday is a big boost for their business.

"All the stores are doing sales. We have police who will help us with the traffic," Ginn said. "We have deals, deals, deals."