Once again this year, those residents in the Chattahoochee Valley seeking a break on sales taxes for school-related clothing and supplies can forget about shopping in Georgia.
Instead, Alabama is offering a tax-free weekend, to include Phenix City and the nearby shopping hub of Auburn-Opelika, the latter having a major power shopping center in Tiger Town, as well as a mall.
The sales tax holiday kicks off bright and early at 12:01 a.m. Friday, then runs until midnight Sunday. Alabama is among 16 states this year offering such tax breaks leading up to the start of school later this summer, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. The other states include Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Georgia last held a tax holiday in 2016, but lawmakers in the Peach State failed to pass legislation in 2017 and again this year to make the event happen.
Opponents of the tax break events say they hit states in their budgets when they can use every dime they can get, while also alleging that some stores hike prices during the holidays. However, a Staples office store circular says locations in Alabama will be offering an extra 10 percent at the counter to those who mention it when checking out.
Another retailer said Tuesday that it will offer its own tax-free discount in Georgia July-27. Mobile, Ala.-based Shoe Station said it will cover the taxes for consumers shopping at its Georgia stores in Columbus, 2521 Airport Thruway, and in Albany, 2600 Dawson Road, on those dates. The combined state and local sales tax in Columbus is 8 percent, while it’s 7 percent in Albany. Aside from shoes, the Shoe Station tax-free offer includes items such as handbags, wallets, T-shirts and hats, the retailer said.
The general rules for the Alabama sales tax holiday, according the state’s Department of Revenue, include breaks on clothing, computers, software, school and art supplies, and instructional material such as textbooks, maps and globes. The combined state and local sales tax in Phenix City, Auburn and Opelika is 9 percent.
There are price limits on the tax-free items in Alabama. For clothing, it is $100 per item, while a single purchase maximum of $750 is allowed for computers and accessories. School supplies such as book bags and writing tablets are capped at $50 per item, while “required textbooks” must be at least $30 and less than $50 each.
Here’s a breakdown on what is exempt from sales tax in Alabama and what is taxable:
Tax exempt clothing
Belts, boots, caps, coats, diapers, dresses, gloves, gym suits, hats, hosiery, jackets, jeans, neckties, pajamas, pants, raincoats, robes, sandals, scarves, school uniforms, shirts, shoes, shorts, socks, sneakers and underwear.
Taxable clothing accessories, protection equipment and recreational gear
Belt buckles (sold separately), briefcases, cosmetics, costume masks, hair items (barrettes, bows), handbags, handkerchiefs, jewelry, patches and emblems, sewing equipment and supplies, eyewear (eyeglasses, sunglasses and contacts), umbrellas, wallets, watches, wigs and hair pieces, breathing masks, ear and hearing protectors, face shields, hard hats, helmets, paint and dust respirators, protective gloves, safety glasses and goggles, safety belts, tool belts, welder gloves and masks, ballet and tap shoes, band instruments, cleated and spiked athletic shoes, gloves (baseball, boxing, golf, etc.), goggles, hand and elbow guards, life preservers and vests, mouth guards, roller and ice skates, shin guards, shoulder pads, ski boots, waders, wetsuits and fins.
Tax exempt computer purchases
Laptop, desktop, tower system (which includes central processing unit, display monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers sold as a package), computer storage media devices (diskettes and compact disks), handheld electronic schedulers (except cellphones), personal digital assistants (except cellphones), computer printers and supplies to include paper and ink.
Taxable computer-related items
Furniture, non-educational video games, and any systems, devices, software and peripherals intended mainly for recreational use.
Tax exempt school, art and instructional supplies
Binders, blackboard chalk, book bags, calculators, cellophane tape, compasses, composition books, crayons, erasers, folders, glue, paste, paste sticks, highlighters, index cards, index card boxes, legal pads, lunch boxes, markers, notebooks, paper (to include loose leaf, tracing, graph, manila, colored, construction and poster board), pencil boxes, pencil sharpeners, pencils, pens, protractors, rulers, scissors, writing tablets, clay and glazes, paints (acrylic, tempora and oil), art paint brushes, sketch and drawing pads, watercolors, reference maps, globes, required textbooks.
Taxable paper items
Magazines, newspapers, periodicals and any other document printed in a non-bound form.