Mitzi Parker: 2016 sales tax holiday

Published 4:59 pm Sunday, July 24, 2016

The 2016 Georgia Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday starts at midnight on Friday, July 30, and ends at midnight on Saturday, July 31. Three types of goods are exempt from both state and local sales tax during the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday: clothing and footwear; computers, computer components, and software; and school supplies.
1.    Clothing and footwear are exempt from sales tax as long as the item costs $100 or less. Jewelry, watches or watchbands, eye wear, handbags, belt buckles sold separately, and selected other items are NOT exempt.
2.    Computers, computer components, and prewritten computer software purchased for noncommercial home or personal use with a purchase price of $1,000 or less per item are exempt. In previous years, the $1,000 limit applied to transactions rather than individual items.
3.    School supplies, school art supplies, school computer supplies, and school instructional materials with a sales price of $20 or less per item purchased for noncommercial use are exempt from the sales tax during the Sales Tax Holiday.
Saving six or seven percent on purchases will quickly add up! Most retailers offer big sales over this weekend to attract more business. The following tips may help you save time, money, and frustration during one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year.
•    Know what is not exempt. You will still pay sales tax on belt buckles sold separately; costume masks sold separately; patches and emblems sold separately; sewing equipment and supplies, including but not limited to knitting needles, patterns, pins, scissors, sewing machines, sewing needles, tape measures, and thimbles; sewing materials that become part of clothing, including but not limited to buttons, fabric, lace, tread, yarn, and sippers; clothing accessories or equipment; or cellular telephones.
•    Check advertisements and fliers for sales. Look for coupons for items you plan to buy. For computer purchases, gather information about features and options and compare prices from different stores.
•    Check with your children’s school to see what “Back to School” supplies teachers are requesting.
•    Clean out your child’s closet and take an inventory of what your child needs.
•    Shop with a list.
•    Leave the kids at home. If you need to bring a child along to try on clothing, consider two trips. Go out by yourself to purchase school supplies and/or computers and accessories. While you are out, make note of any particularly good clothing sales and return to those stores later in the weekend with the kids.
•    Avoid using credit. Unless you pay the balance in full with each statement, the interest you pay on a credit card balance can offset any savings. To avoid temptation, leave your credit cards at home.
•    Check online. Many online retailers participate in the sales tax holiday weekend. Make sure shipping and handling charges do not offset the tax savings on your purchase.

Finally, bring along plenty of patience and a positive attitude. The stores, parking lots, and roads around shopping centers are going to be busy and crowded. Check-out lines will be long. If you do not enjoy shopping, the Sales Tax Holiday weekend might be a good time to stay at home!

Mitzi Parker is a Sumter County Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Contact her at (229)924-4476