Back-to-school sales tax holiday returns, after first day of class

Computers are a popular item for shoppers during sales tax holidays.

The Georgia back-to-school sales tax holiday is back for the first time since 2009, but pupils in three local districts will already be back in school by the time the shopping holiday occurs.

The sales tax holiday will be Aug. 10-11. Shoppers that weekend won’t pay sales tax on clothing and footwear less than $100 per item, purchases of computers and accessories $1,000 or less, and general school supplies less than $20 per item.

But Columbia County pupils go back to school on Aug. 7. Burke County starts Aug. 8, and McDuffie County begins on Aug. 10.

State Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, a sponsor of the legislation that reinstated the tax holiday, said he did not remember how writers of the bill decided on the dates for the holiday.

In other parts of the state, pupils will already be in school by the tax holiday weekend. In Houston County, pupils will return to school Aug. 1.

South Carolina’s sales tax holiday is Aug. 3-5, which is two weeks before pupils in Aiken and Edgefield counties return to school.

The last time Georgia had a sales tax holiday was July 31-Aug. 3 in 2009. The economic downtown prompted the state to suspend it in 2010 and 2011.

“We’ve already got people coming in with lists,” said Eric Brooks, a manager at Target in Augusta.

Brooks said he doubts back-to-school shoppers will hold off for the tax holiday, even Richmond County shoppers, whose pupils don’t go back until Aug. 13. The holiday might bring extra traffic through the store for clothing and extra school supplies, but he said most parents want to buy the required list of items well before their kids are back in school.

“I think we’ll see a little of both, though, waiting and going ahead and buying,” he said.

Audrey Chaplin owns School Days Supply Co. in Augusta and said the timing of the sales tax holiday could have been much more beneficial for everyone.

“If they’re considering all these schools, they should have at least had it the week before the earliest school started back,” she said.

School Days gets some business from parents, but its primary customers are teachers, according to Chaplin. They will be shopping regardless of tax holidays, and some even choose not to shop on sales tax holidays in order to avoid crowds.

“It does help us, though, and we do get people coming in because of it,” she said. “Nothing that brings people into your store will hurt.”

Chaplin said it’s been a while since the last back-to-school sales tax holiday, so it’s hard to predict how this will affect her business. One thing she knows for sure is that her store will be packed for the next few months.

“It’s our Christmas,” she said. “We’re going to be busy regardless.”

BACK TO SCHOOL

Georgia’s sales tax holiday will be Aug. 10-11, the weekend after some Georgia pupils return to the classroom. A look at the area’s back-to-school dates:

COUNTY DATE

Columbia Aug. 7

Burke Aug. 8

McDuffie Aug. 10

Richmond Aug. 13

Aiken Aug. 20

Edgefield Aug. 20

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