DENNIS SEID: Tax-free holiday finally gets here

In less than three months, back-to-school spending will gear up.
Recession or not, kids still need backpacks, crayons, glue, hand soap and, of course, toilet paper.
And then there are the clothes, shoes and, depending on the age of your “kid” perhaps a laptop computer.
For several years, a sales tax holiday for Mississippi has been proposed – but killed – in the state Legislature.
But earlier this month, Gov. Haley Barbour signed into law a bill that gives a little break to those back-to-school shoppers.
Mississippi now joins 13 states and the District of Columbia in providing some kind of BTS sales tax holiday.
Give credit to Sen. Walter Michel, the Republican who represents Madison and Hinds counties. Since 2000, he’s been trying to get the BTS sales tax holiday, only to run into a wall.
This year, on July 31 and Aug. 1, shoppers will have the 7 percent state sales tax lopped off their purchases of clothes and shoes under $100.
But the tax holiday in Mississippi isn’t as broad as some states’ programs.
For example, computers are included during the sales tax holidays in Alabama and Tennessee. In Louisiana, purchases up to a total of $2,500 are included.
In Mississippi, the exemption “covers clothing or footwear designed to be worn on or about the human body if the sales price of the article is less than $100.”
Not included are accessories, including jewelry, handbags, luggage, umbrellas, wallets, watches, backpacks, briefcases, garment bags; rentals of clothing or footwear; and skis, swim fins, roller blades, skates,and “similar items worn on the foot.”
Mississippi is merely dipping its toes into the water. But at least we’re not stuck on dry land as we have been, and in these stressful times, every little bit helps.
However, opponents of the sales tax holiday say Mississippi cities will be losing much-needed revenue.
Proponents of the holiday say that we’re already losing money to neighbor states because of their tax holidays. Plus, consumers who save money on shoes and clothes might spend money on other items that aren’t tax-free.
Still, to make cities feel a little better, they can opt out if they don’t like the numbers they get from this year’s tax holiday.
Starting in January, a Mississippi municipality can suspend the holiday, as long as it sends a resolution to the State Tax Commission at least 90 days in advance of the suspension.
This year’s sales tax holiday is a good step forward, With consumers spending about $600 per person in BTS supplies each year, a discount in any form gets passing marks every time.

Contact Dennis Seid at 678-1578 or

NEMS Daily Journal

Click video to hear audio