Originally created 07/30/01

Georgians expected to take advantage of break



She no longer does the back-to-school shopping - her son Chris, 16, prefers to do his own.

But Camille Roberge-Myers says as long as she's subsidizing her youngest child's clothing and school supplies, she's tickled she will be saving a little money at the expense of the government this weekend.

Residents of South Carolina will be able to shop tax-free on specific items from 12:01 a.m. Friday until midnight Sunday.

The tax-free weekend is the second such break - the first was this time last year - meant to provide relief on pupil necessities.

"Even though it's only 5 or 6 percent savings, to me, it's the idea that we don't have to pay taxes that makes it fun," Ms. Roberge-Myers said.

The savings is 6 percent where she lives in Aiken County, which has a one-cent local option sales tax.

Items exempt from sales tax during the period include traditional school supplies along with clothing, clothing accessories, footwear, computers, printers, printer supplies and computer software.

Ms. Roberge-Myers said she participated last year and noticed the difference.

Aiken County public schools begin classes Aug. 14. Edgefield County and Allendale County schools begin Aug. 9. Barnwell County schools begin Aug. 13.

Charlene Riley, the manager of the south Aiken Kmart, said second-year awareness of the tax break could pump up crowds.

"I believe it will probably be better," Ms. Riley said, although she didn't have any projected figures. To handle the push, "we will have some extra staffing," she confirmed.

Georgia does not have a tax-free weekend, but the idea has been broached by state officials.

Scott Griesel, the new manager of the North Augusta Wal-Mart, said this will be his first experience with the back-to-school tax break.

He managed a Wal-Mart in the Atlanta area two years before coming to the North Augusta store, so he has come to expect throngs of shoppers.

"They say it's like the day after Thanksgiving ..." Mr. Griesel said.

He said he expects Georgians looking to join in on saving a few cents on the dollar to be among those in his store.

"It's my understanding there was some impact on sales from Georgia last year in our stores," Mr. Griesel said. "As close as we are to the state line, I think there would be a small impact on all retail stores there."

He said any out-of-state draw and the fact Wal-Mart shoppers will be cashing federal tax rebate checks - an attempt by Congress to stimulate the economy - should prove a powerful combination with the state tax relief.

Mr. Griesel said the corporate office in Bentonville, Ark., already is updating its computerized registers to recognize the tax-free items at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

Reach Eric Williamson at (803) 648-1395 or eric@augusta.com.