Sales tax holiday returns in July

By Mary Perez/The Sun Herald

BILOXI — Mississippi’s sales-tax holiday returns the weekend of July 30-31, in time for back-to-school shopping.

For 48 hours, between 12:01 a.m. July 30 and midnight July 31, stores won’t collect the 7 percent sales tax on eligible items.

The tax holiday was so popular last year, some retailers reported sales volumes were comparable to Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that is the kickoff of the Christmas shopping season.

Shoppers and retailers had hoped the tax exemption would be expanded to include other school supplies, including computers, paper and backpacks. The list remains the same as last year — basically clothing and shoes that cost less than $100 each. The entire 7 percent tax will be collected on a pair of shoes or item of clothing priced over $100, the Tax Commission said.

Jewelry, watches, sports equipment, computers or school supplies are not included.

Biloxi was one of 14 municipalities in the state and the only one in South Mississippi that chose not to participate in the sales-tax holiday.

“We need the sales tax,” Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway said.

The city council voted to opt out of the program, but Holloway said the city will take another look because it will unfairly hurt Biloxi businesses.

“It will definitely put us at a disadvantage especially if other municipalities aren’t opting out,” said Michelle Rogers, marketing director for Edgewater Mall in Biloxi. “Last year the two days of sales-tax holiday literally were like two days before Christmas in the mall,” she said. “We were very busy.”

While people were out shopping, she said, they were giving the mall stores an end-of-summer boom and also went to restaurants and bought gas in the community.

“It wasn’t just a boom for the businesses that had the items that were tax-free,” she said.

Holloway plans to call a special meeting or bring the matter before the council at Tuesday’s meeting.