OUR OPINION: Revisit tax holiday in 2012

By NEMS Daily Journal

Today and until midnight Saturday retailers in most towns across Mississippi will not collect sales tax on eligible clothing and footwear items costing $100 or less.
It’s a form of tax break and economic stimulus rolled into one, and most people welcome the limited break, including parents who are buying back-to-school clothes and shoes.
The idea, adapted from similar tax-break weekends in other states, was inspired by the substantial outlays usually required to get kids ready for school – and of course for other kinds of shopping falling into the price range and categories.
It is ironic that school supplies – the paper, backpacks, Sharpies, crayons, computers and many other items most associated with equipping children for the classroom (from kindergarten through college) – are not exempted.
Maybe a new Legislature can revisit the so-called “tax holiday” in the 2012 session.
Retailers, understandably happy with the prospect of increased sales, are opening early and staying open later in many venues.
The Department of Revenue, formerly the State Tax Commission, officially describes the event as a “back to school (sale) … worth 7 percent in savings to consumers as a result of waiving the sales tax on specific items.”
“The items exempt from sales tax during the Sales Tax Holiday period are identical to those items exempted the prior two years. Clothing and footwear items, meant to be worn next to the body and cost less than $100 per item, are exempt from sales tax during this period.
“School supplies and computers are not included.”
The exempted list interestingly includes cowboy boots and fishing vests and the items that would appear to be nonessential school supplies, but tastes differ.
Not to begrudge anyone savings on clothing purchases or more revenue for sellers, but it seems reasonable to add to the exempt items school supplies and, in the 21st-century Internet age – computers, which have legitimate and growing education uses.
Another Mississippi newspaper reported that Alabama’s sales-tax holiday will be held Aug. 5-7 – a week from this weekend – and will offer sales-tax exemption for some school supplies below $50 per item and computers totaling less than $750.
A yearly review of exempted items and the exemptions in other participating states seems a reasonable legislative obligation, just so that Mississippi remains competitive in its tax holidays.