It’s tax-free shopping weekend again

Published 10:23am Friday, July 25, 2014

Without a whole lot of fanfare this year, the annual sales tax holiday arrives Saturday in Mississippi.

Few local retailers have mentioned the event in their ads this year, but when I checked with Kay Burton at the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Thursday, she encouraged local residents to take advantage of the tax break.

“It’s like a 7 percent discount on your purchase,” Burton said, adding, “the key is for people to know about it. It definitely will benefit our local retailers and people needing to stock up on things for school.”

Mississippi has a tax-free holiday thanks to a bill passed by the 2009 state legislature establishing the tax break every year from “12:01 a.m. on the last Friday in July and ending at 12:00 midnight the following Saturday.”

Not all items are included in the Mississippi tax holiday though. Sales of clothing and shoes valued at less than $100 are allowed, but accessory items such as purses, jewelry, luggage, billfolds, watches, briefcases and backpacks aren’t included.

Although the sales tax holiday is often promoted for those stocking up before starting school, school supplies such as computers, notebooks, pencils and pens aren’t included, but the tax break on back-to-school clothes still offers a sizeable savings for families. Also, although each clothing item must be less than $100 in cost, there is no limit to how many pieces of clothing a buyer can include on the tax-free day.

In setting the tax-free holiday, the state law also allows individual cities to choose not to observe the tax break within their city limits. Cities omitting the holiday this year are Heidelberg, Enterprise and Crenshaw.

Mississippi is one of 16 states in the nation with tax-free holidays, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators website. Some of those states, like Alabama, where I lived for many years, do include school supplies, books and computers as well as clothing in the tax-free holiday.

Like Mississippi, Alabama limits clothing to items of $100 or less, but our sister state also permits computer purchases up to $750, school supplies up to $50 and books up to $30.

Alabama’s more wide-ranging tax holiday draws a much larger crowd of shoppers to the stores each year, too. I can remember long waits at the checkout lines, particularly at stores selling computers. The tax saving on a $750 computer, based on a 7 percent rate, amounts to $52.50 – money that most shoppers will put back into the economy by purchasing other items.

But even without the pricier electronic items, Mississippi’s sales tax holiday still allows considerable savings when a purchaser fills a shopping cart with clothes and shoes for a houseful of adults and children.

So get out, and check out our local businesses for bargains on clothing Saturday, and deduct another 7 percent from your purchases. The weather forecast is for sunny skies, and the dollars you pump back into our local economy will help our area businesses, which are owned and run by your friends and neighbors.

 Rachel Eide is editor/general manager of The Daily Leader. Contact her at