Those in the Chattahoochee Valley seeking a tax break while doing their back-to-school shopping this year will have to do so in Alabama, with Georgia’s lawmakers opting not to hold what has become a cash-saving summer ritual for consumers.
The bottom line: Alabama will begin its sales tax holiday spree at 12:01 a.m. CST Friday, with it lasting until midnight Sunday, according to the Alabama Department of Revenue. That means Columbus-area shoppers who wish to take part in it will need to visit Phenix City or the nearest metro area in Alabama, with that being Auburn and Opelika, Ala., about a half-hour drive from downtown Columbus.
There is a Walmart Supercenter on U.S. Highway 280 in Phenix City, along with a few clothing and dollar-store outlets scattered in the community where some shopping can be done. But for those seeking variety similar to that in Columbus, Auburn-Opelika and its mall and power strip shopping center called Tiger Town looks to be a logical choice.
The Tiger Town development just off Interstate 85 has a solid range of retailers which includes Target, Kohl’s, Old Navy, T.J. Maxx, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kinnucan’s, Dress Barn, Ross Dress for Less and Office Depot. There’s also Auburn Mall at 1627 Opelika Road in Auburn, with its retail offerings including American Eagle Outfitters, Loft, Belk, Dillard’s, JCPenney, Stein Mart, FootLocker, Hibbett Sporting Goods and Shoe Source Encore.
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Academy Sports and Outdoors also has a store on Bent Creek Road in Auburn. And, like Columbus, there’s a good selection of sit-down restaurants and fast-food outlets to choose from during the sales-tax holiday shopping trip.
The annual sales tax holidays in Georgia, Alabama and elsewhere typically give shoppers — whether they and loved ones are heading back to school or not — a break on clothing, school supplies and some electronic equipment such as personal computers, up to various limits.
The state and local sales tax in Phenix City, Auburn and Opelika is 9 percent. With that in mind, here is a basic list of tax-exempt items in Alabama Friday through Sunday:
TAX-EXEMPT CLOTHING ($100 or less per item)
▪ Gym suits
▪ School uniforms
EXEMPT SCHOOL AND ART SUPPLIES ($50 or less per item)
▪ Blackboard chalk
▪ Book bags
▪ Cellophane tape
▪ Composition books
▪ Folders (expandable, pocket, plastic and manila)
▪ Glue, paste and paste sticks
▪ Index cards
▪ Index card boxes
▪ Legal pads
▪ Lunch boxes
▪ Paper (loose leaf ruled notebook paper, copy paper, graph paper, tracing paper, manila paper, colored paper, poster board and construction paper)
▪ Pencil boxes and other school supply boxes
▪ Pencil sharpeners
▪ Writing tablets
▪ Clay and glazes
▪ Paints (acrylic, tempora and oil)
▪ Paintbrushes for artwork
▪ Sketch and drawing pads
▪ Reference maps and globes
▪ Required textbooks (on an official school book list with a sales price of more than $30 and less than $50)
BOOKS ($30 or less per item)
▪ The term book is defined as a set of printed sheets bound together and published in a volume with an ISBN number
TAX-EXEMPT COMPUTERS AND ACCESSORIES (single purchase of $750 or less)
▪ A computer may include a laptop, desktop or tower computer system which consists of a central processing unit (CPU), and devices such as a display monitor, keyboard, mouse and speakers sold as a computer package. Note that computer parts and devices not sold as part of a package with the CPU, will not qualify for the exemption.
▪ Computer storage media to include diskettes, compact disks
▪ Hand-held electronic schedulers, except devices that are cellular phones
▪ Personal digital assistants, except devices that are cellular phones
▪ Computer printers
▪ Printer supplies for computers (printer paper, printer ink)