Back-to-school tax free holiday begins FridayPublished 12:04pm Tuesday, July 30, 2013
The eighth annual back to school tax-free holiday is coming up over the weekend. The sale begins at 12:01 a.m. Fri., Aug. 2 and continues through midnight Sun., Aug. 4.
This tax-free weekend allows shoppers to buy school supply items without paying the four percent state sales tax. Counties and cities can also elect to participate, waiving their own sales taxes as well. Morgan County and the City of Hartselle have both elected to participate every year, eliminating their one percent and four percent sales taxes respectively.
Falkville, Decatur and Somerville have also decided to take part, making all included items completely tax-free. Priceville and Danville are not on the Alabama Department of Revenue’s list of participating cities.
Current mayor Don Hall was on the Hartselle City Council when Hartselle adopted the tax-free holiday.
“We wanted to follow the precedent our state had set,” Hall said. “We felt this holiday would help parents get kids ready for school. To not participate would encourage parents to make school supply purchases outside of the community. We felt this would be a good incentive for both the citizens and local businesses.”
Kalleigh Drake, owner of Shoefisticated downtown, said she sees increases in business each tax-free weekend.
“I absolutely see more business that weekend,” Drake said. “I usually have my end of summer sale already going, and my sales always increase dramatically.”
Tax-exempt items includes traditional school supplies such as paper, pens, pencils, notebooks, rulers, calculators, backpacks, crayons, markers, erasers, books and other items. The tax-exemption also covers art supplies, textbooks ($30-$50) and general clothing items (under $100 each). Computers, software, electronic storage devices, printers and other electronic supplies are also exempt from taxes, as long as each item is $750 or less.
The back to school tax-free weekend, Act No. 2006-574, was first enacted by the state in 2006. Although the legislature helps boost tax revenues by drawing more consumers into stores, it is also seen as a helping hand to the citizens of Alabama.
School supply lists can be lengthy and expensive. Back to school expenses often take a toll on families, especially those with multiple school-age children, but parents feel some schools have taken action to cut costs.
“At Vinemont we take up a $25 fee from students, and the teachers buy them all the same supplies,” said Myra Ford, a teacher at Vinemont Elementary. She also has a daughter who goes to Hartselle High School. “That system works for us to keep costs down, but as students get older, the supplies are going to be more expensive. They need bigger binders, graphing calculators and jump drives.”
Crestline Elementary principal Robin Varwig said Crestline teachers are working hard to keep school supply costs to a minimum.
“We look over supply lists every year to see where changes can be made,” Varwig said. “This year we are offering a pre-assembled binder parents can buy for $5. It will come with several school supply items already in it, but it will not replace the entire supply list. The school-wide ‘Tiger Binder’ will help with daily communication between parents and teachers as well as supply a few things students will need for the year.”