It’s 2011 Sales Tax Holiday Time Again

Tax Holiday Time

Tax Holiday Time

By Charles F. Spielmann

Parents everywhere are brimming with excitement in anticipation of sending their kids back to school. As much of a relief as that can be, the list of required supplies the school just sent out, not to mention the endless fashion items the kids claim they just HAVE to have, can make that feeling of joy drain away quickly.

This year, sixteen states have taken pity upon these unfortunate parents and implemented a brief sales tax holiday time on many of the items associated with the proper care and feeding of young minds.

Every state has its own set of rules, but, in general, clothing, accessories, sporting goods, computers and software, books and maps, non-commercial office and art supplies (like paper, pens and pencils, calculators, lunch boxes, etc.) and other such items may be eligible.

As eager as parents are to take advantage of the savings, these holidays can make the retailer’s job a whole lot more complicated.

It falls upon the retailer to check with each state and pay close attention to the exceptions to the exemptions. Take Alabama for instance. They’ve set an upper dollar limit of $100 on clothing. That’s pretty straight forward, but the rules get more tricky. Alabama has decided that non-commercial bound books with ISBN numbers less than $30 are exempt, but periodicals aren’t. Personal digital assistants (PDAs) are, but cell phones aren’t. You can bet customers won’t hesitate to complain to the state if they feel they are being “ripped off.”

For another thing, even while the state might be forgiving foregoing the sales tax, that doesn’t mean that every county, city and special district is as well. Consumers rarely realize that even if they shop on the right day and pick up the right item, they might still owe taxes to the local municipality. The retailer gets the joy of explaining that tidbit.

In an effort to help out, the following is a list of this year’s participating states, the dates of this month’s holidays, and a link to the state’s particulars on qualifying items.

Illinois, Massachusetts and Vermont had sales tax holidays last year, but failed to enact the required laws this year.

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