Tennessee kicks off Sales Tax Holiday
By Sarah Morton Daily Times Correspondent
Today marks the start of Tennessee’s sixth sales tax-free weekend.
The Sales Tax Holiday, which began in 2006, has local businesses excited for what has proven to be a busy weekend for retailers and parents of school-age children.
The tax breaks, which started just after midnight this morning, continue until 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
As always, consumers are exempt from paying sales tax on school supplies and clothing items that total $100 or less per item. Computers priced $1,500 or less are also exempt from sales tax.
The sales tax holiday gives cities and counties a “hold harmless” provision, meaning the state reimburses the local governments for any forgone taxes during the tax-free weekend.
Tennessee’s first sales tax holiday in August 2006 was also the most popular one, costing the state $13.7 million in forgone sales taxes and reimbursements to local governments. That total steadily decreased in the following years, reaching just $7.6 million in 2009, a 46 percent drop from the peak.
Tennessee Revenue Commissioner Richard Roberts said taxpayers who took advantage of the state’s sales tax holiday last year saved nearly $8.6 million, a decline of about 38 percent from the first year.
“We are hopeful that all Tennessee shoppers will take advantage of the tax relief provided by the 2011 sales tax holiday,” Roberts said.
Stuff the Bus
Local Walmart managers are especially excited for this weekend, not only because of the success they have seen during past tax-free holidays, but also because of a benefit event taking place at their stores this weekend.
Stuff the Bus will be held from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at both the Alcoa and Maryville Walmarts.
The stores are teaming up with the Blount County Education Foundation so that while shoppers take advantage of the tax-free deals, they can pick up extra school supplies to donate to Stuff the Bus. These supplies will go to local teachers so they can supply necessary items to students who may not be able to buy them.
To provide incentive for shoppers to donate to this cause, Walmart is offering reduced prices on items the education foundation has listed as needed by students. Walmart also will give $2,000 to the foundation on top of the donations they receive from shoppers.
More deals, hours
Some stores are offering additional deals to help boost sales and consumers’ savings this weekend. JCPenney at Foothills Mall will have door-buster sales on top of the tax-free deals. Those sales start at 3 p.m. today and will run through 1 p.m. Saturday.
Junior’s clothing is expected to be a big seller this weekend, according to Julie Crompton, store manager.
Shoppers can also take advantage of extra shopping time this weekend, as stores have chosen to alter their hours. Some stores with extended hours include Office Depot, which will close one hour later all three days and will open one hour earlier than normal on Saturday. Staples will also be staying open an hour later on Friday and Saturday.
Examples of tax-exempt items include:
• Clothing: Shirts, dresses, pants, coats, gloves and mittens, hats and caps, hosiery, neckties, belts, sneakers, shoes, uniforms (either athletic or nonathletic) and scarves.
• School supplies: Binders, book bags, calculators, tape, chalk, crayons, erasers, folders, glue, pens, pencils, lunch boxes, notebooks, paper, rulers and scissors.
• Art supplies: Clay and glazes; acrylic, tempera and oil paints; paintbrushes for artwork; sketch and drawing pads; and watercolors.
• Computers: Central processing unit (CPU), along with various other components including monitor, keyboard, mouse, cables to connect components and preloaded software (Note: While the CPU may be purchased separately, other items must be part of a bundled computer package in order to be eligible.) iPads and other tablet computers are eligible for tax exemption, while video games and consoles are not.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.