Sales tax holiday weekend kicks off Friday

Published 8:24 pm Thursday, August 1, 2013

By Sarah Mahan

The Selma Times-Journal

As summer comes to an end, the rush for back-to-school supplies and new school uniforms will begin in earnest for local retailers.

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In an effort to make back-to-school shopping more financially manageable, a sales tax holiday — allowing residents to purchase certain items without city or state sales taxes — will be held beginning Friday and continuing through Sunday.

Sheryl Smedley, executive director of the Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce, encouraged residents to take advantage of the tax-free weekend.

“The holiday offers savings to citizens and benefits the community,” Smedley said. “It gives a jump start to our local economy here in Selma and Dallas County. This holiday is for everyone to partake in because the [tax-free] items on the list are things that everyone needs.”

Multiple types of school-related supplies will be considered tax-free during the holiday. Exempt items include: articles of clothing costing $100 or less, computers and computer software costing $750 or less, any school supply material of $50 or less per item and any schoolbooks costing $30 or less per item.

Local business are preparing for the crowds that often take advantage of the savings.

In a previous interview with The Selma Times-Journal, Jeffrey Nichols, owner of Selma-based Screenco, said the tax-free weekend is one of his busiest times.

“The first part of August is when the majority of people come in and shop and get their uniforms. We see a lot of people come in and just take advantage of that sales tax holiday,” Nichols said.

Every school within the Selma City School system requires uniforms, and Nichols said families with multiple children spend, at an average minimum, $300 for several pairs of pants and three to four shirts per child at his store.

The costs of both school supplies and school uniforms can add up quickly.

Prices for school uniforms alone — not including the cost of school supplies — can vary depending on size, number and where the uniforms were purchased. For instance, a single boy’s uniform — including collared shirt, pants, shoes and belt — can cost between $41.91 and $65.72 in local stores.

For girls, uniform prices can vary between $27.91 and $70.22 for a collared shirt, skirt and shoes.

Along with uniforms, school supplies are also a back-to-school necessity that can increase costs.

Using an Edgewood Elementary first grader as an example, school supplies from Walmart cost upwards of $60 for a single child. If that child has a sibling going into fifth grade at Edgewood, school supply costs would increase by $78.

These prices do not include sales tax, which would add an extra 10 percent to each transaction.

Even though school supplies will not be taxed, Smedley reminds residents shopping locally benefits the community.

“The emphasis should stay in your community, even if it is a tax-free holiday. If businesses aren’t being supported by local citizens, those business won’t be able to give back to the community, and it also supports our local work force,” she said.