Sales tax holiday looms

By Michael Davis

Forest Park High School student Erica Lamar plans on taking advantage of this year's tax breaks, but it's not the income kind she's looking forward to.

On school supplies and clothing, the 15-year-old rising junior said she's going to be taking advantage of the four days this year when hundreds of school-related and clothing items are exempt from state and local sales tax?just in time to stock up for the next school-year.

"But they should do it more than once," she said.

Last year, like other shoppers in Georgia and elsewhere, she used the sales tax-free weekend to buy clothing, shoes, pens and pencils and other school supplies at local shopping centers.

Proponents of the holiday say that the four-day break brings millions of dollars into communities on the state's borders as shoppers from outside the state line up to take advantage.

But some argue the holiday depletes state coffers to the tune of millions: an argument that came up during the past legislative session when House Bill 1184 was debated.

The sales tax holiday doesn't mean much for 80-year-old Lillian Tappen of Stockbridge.

Even though she's raising her 11-year-old granddaughter, the weekend won't do her any good because she can't be sure of when she can get to the store.

"I don't drive," she said. "But I'll think about it and see if I can get somebody to take me."

The Georgia Department of Revenue has once again set up a link from their Web site with a list of exempt items and answers to frequently asked questions.

Some items are only exempt up to a specified dollar amount. Computers for example, are exempt up to $1,500 and clothing, up to $100 per item.

Legislation also does not exempt "recreation related" software and hardware such as joysticks, but education software is exempt.

School supplies, such as pens, pencils and paper products are exempt up to $20 per item and dictionaries and books on school system reading lists are exempt.

Additionally, if an item is purchased during the sales tax holiday and exchanged for a similar item after the holiday, no sales tax will be added.

For a complete list of exempt items, as well as items that are not exempt, visit www.gatax.org and click on Sales Tax Holiday 2004.