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Tax holiday date raises questions
A state legislator says he's just as unhappy as others are about the date selected to bring back the sales tax holiday in Georgia this year.

The tax holiday, when local and state sales taxes are waived on most educational related purchases, is set for Aug. 10-11. That's three days after public schools are scheduled to start in Glynn County and after families usually begin traditional back to school shopping.

Schools reopen even earlier in other counties, including in Houston County, which starts Aug. 1.

"No, I am not happy with the date," said Rep. Alex Atwood, R-St. Simons Island, who voted for the sales tax holiday. "However, if left up to some in the legislature, we would not be enjoying a sales tax holiday at all.

"Although I would have preferred an earlier date, I am still glad to have supported this tax break which should help the hard working families in my district."

The holiday will start at midnight Aug. 10 and end at midnight Aug. 11.

"It is my understanding that the author of this particular part of the Tax Reform package worked with numerous entities, including parents of school children and the Georgia Retailers Association, to get the best date for the largest number of people," he said.

Not everyone in the General Assembly was convinced that the sales tax holiday, its initial purpose being to draw residents from bordering states to shop for back to school supplies in Georgia, has been worth the loss of revenue to the state and local governments. The economic downtown prompted the state to suspend it in 2010 and 2011.

The holiday amounts to a significant savings on school-related items in most counties. In Glynn County, the sales tax is 6 percent on the dollar. It's slightly higher in other counties.

Atwood said there was little anyone could do to alter the measure when it came time to vote on it.

"Unfortunately, when the bill came out of the Rules Committee, it was structured so as to not allow any amendments from the House floor," Atwood said. "The representatives only had an up or down vote with no opportunity to change the date or any other part of the Tax Reform package."

Woody Woodside, president of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce, said parents or students may want to put off large qualifying purchases until later to take advantage of the sales tax waiver and any other discounts stores may offer.

The holiday allows shoppers to avoid paying sales taxes on clothing items under $100, electronics such as computers and accessories, and general school supplies under $20.

For a list of educational-related purchases exempt from sales taxes, visit etax.dor.ga.gov.



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