Back to school

Georgians must go out of state in this year if they want to purchase back-to-school items during a sales tax holiday.

Just in time for buying school supplies and back-to-school clothing, sales tax holidays have been announced for Alabama, Tennessee and Florida for 2018 — but not Georgia.

For the second year in a row, Georgia’s elected representatives refused to adopt legislation that would have exempted certain items from state and local taxes prior to the 2018-19 school year.

Tennessee has held such sales annually since 2006, while Alabama and Georgia instituted tax-free weekends in 2012.

“We did not vote on any bill that would have provided a tax free holiday,” said state Republican Rep. Steve Tarvin of Chickamauga. “It might have been hidden in the budget, but it never came to the floor.”

Tax-exempt items usually included clothing and footwear priced at less than $100, computers costing less than $1,000, and supplies that cost no more than $20 per item.

Parents and students could save some money while checking off their back-to-school supply lists and teachers were able to stretch their dollars when buying items for classroom use.

Some say the state cannot afford losing tens of millions of dollars in sales tax revenue, but others say few shop only for exempt items and getting customers into stores means a boost to sales of non-exempt goods.

While either point can be argued, so too can the fact that those living in Northwest Georgia are a few minutes from states where they can save some green.

Alabama will have a tax free holiday this weekend, July 20-22, and Tennessee will have a three-day tax holiday the following weekend, July 27-29.

Guidelines differ from state to state as to what will be exempted from taxes, but the general rule is that clothing items costing $100 or less, computers (maximum of $750 in Alabama, $1,000 in Tennessee) will be sold tax free.

Tarvin said he did not know why the issue was not raised during this year’s legislative session.

“If I was voting, I’d support it,” he said.